Brooklyn-based food and beverage company W&P Design has launched Dovetail, a publishing company pairing books with original products.
The publishing unit, according to the company, is a natural extension of the W&P brand, which launched in 2012 with Shake, a self-published cocktail book written by W&P's founders, Eric Prum and Josh Williams. The book was sold alongside a cocktail shaker called the "Mason Shaker," which was created by W&P.
"The fact that they had released both product and book at the same time helped both items find their way into a variety of retail outlets," said Dovetail publisher Nick Fauchald, adding that the items were sold "everywhere from J. Crew and Urban Outfitters to bookstores.”
Fauchald, who met Prum and Williams last year through his own small publisher, Short Stack Editions, comes from a food-related editorial background, having worked at Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, and Every Day with Rachael Ray magazines. He's also published several books of his own.
"We had some war stories to share, and it started this conversation about what works and what doesn’t work in traditional publishing," Fauchald told PW. "I also loved the idea for developing books and products beside each other, and we’re seeing a lot of traditional publishers get into the product business, although they still focus on paper goods and things like that."
The publisher's first three books, which are available for pre-order on its newly-launched website but publish on September 20, keep things in familiar territory—they're all about food, drink, and hosting.
Brew, by Brian W. Jones, will focus on making better coffee at home, and is paired with a 3-in-1 pourover press that is a cross between a carafe and a French press. ¡Buenos Nachos!, written by Gina Hamadey, spotlights nachos, and is paired with baking mats that look like a Mexican serape blanket and a metallic-gold grater. Host, written by Prum and Williams, is a guide to hosting in a small space, and is paired with a collection of products that include a walnut serving board and a brass wine key.
Most of the products won't come packaged with the books but, instead, will be recommended for sale alongside them. The idea, the company said, is that retailers will buy both, hopefully with custom packaging that marries the two things. While the books will each see a first printing of 25,000 copies, the product numbers are "all over the place," Fauchald said, based on minimums of manufacturing, and how quickly they can get made.
For the spring, Fauchald said, the company will branch out, with guides to yoga, the modern workplace, and macha tea. "We have a million ideas for books, but not all of those books have logical products that we could or would make products for alongside them,” he said. The publisher's solution is to whittle down its book choices based on what they can produce as complementary products.
Much of the sales opportunities come from pre-existing W&P accounts at various stores; current clients include retailers like Urban Outfitters and various specialty gift shops. While all the stores selling W&P products also sell books, W&P does not have a wealth of bookstore accounts. Dovetail, with the help of sales and business development lead Ryan Kelly—who has managed sales and distribution accounts for companies like Chronicle Books and Barnes & Noble—will be developing its own.
"The opportunity for us is to present and showcase how bookstores can better sell a concept by integrating a product that a book can sit next to," said Kelly. "Instead of sourcing a book about coffee and then going out and finding a french press that compliments that book, we’re giving booksellers both things at once.”