The American Bar Association’s publishing division, which already releases some 160 books a year for lawyers and other legal professionals, is getting into the trade business with a new imprint, Ankerwycke.
The first title from Ankerwycke is the just-released legal thriller, Supreme Ambitions, by David Lat, a former clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Thirty-four more fiction and nonfiction titles from the imprint will be released in 2015. Initial print runs will average 10,000 copies and, depending on the title, published in either hardcover or in trade paper formats; all titles will be published simultaneously in e-book as well.
“Our bread and butter has always been books for lawyers by lawyers," explained Timothy Brandhorst, the ABA’s director of new product development and Ankerwycke’s editorial director. The ABA, however, has previously published fiction, nonfiction and even children’s books that have gained some traction beyond the legal profession. ABA’s distributor, National Book Network, urged the press to ramp up publishing such titles targeting the trade. “We wanted to do this right,” Brandhorst said, “We decided to launch an imprint.”
The name, Ankerwycke, goes back almost 800 years to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 by King John under an ancient yew tree. England’s Magna Carta provided a foundation for constitutional law in the U.S. and is universally regarded as a symbol of the fundamental legal rights and liberties granted to individuals.
“The tree represents the ever-changing nature of the law; it’s evergreen,” Brandhorst noted.
Brandhorst maintains that the ABA is “keeping [its] finger on the intersection of law and culture” by publishing books for non-lawyers that feature a heavy dose of “authenticity” about the inner workings of the legal profession. Each of the 35 books published between December 2014-October 2015 falls under one of four categories: legal fiction; nonfiction, including true crime books; business books, including business development and crisis management; and consumer guides.
Besides Brandhorst, there are about a half-dozen ABA personnel dedicated to the imprint, including three acquisitions editors who previously worked at Sourcebooks, F&W, and Wiley, respectively.
“We have some crackerjack editors," Brandhorst said, “We’re really committed to this.”