Skyhorse Publishing and David Talbot, founder of Salon, are teaming to launch a new imprint. Hot Books will be dedicated to publishing nonfiction titles “on issues of the moment,” Talbot told PW. Each book will be about 40,000 words and be based on investigations that Talbot estimates will take three or four months to complete. The goal of the imprint is to “fill the void” that has been left by larger media outlets that have shied away from doing investigative pieces, Talbot said. “We want to provoke conversation round serious issues,” he said.
The first title, set for August, is The Beastside: Living (and Dying) While Black in America by D. Watkins. Talbot had commissioned the book around the time of the Ferguson riots and moved up the pub dated as the controversy over the shooting of black men by white officers has remained a hot topic. Watkins is from Baltimore and has made a number of media appearances in recent weeks, including a spot on Meet the Press.
To promote its titles, Hot Books content, including excerpts, scoops and author interviews will be featured on Salon and Hot Books and Salon will create a co-branded landing page that will also include content from other Skyhorse books. The books will be released simultaneously in hardcover and digital formats with the expectation that a trade paperback will follow. Talbot believes for books of this type it is important to have a print edition available. He is also thinking about exploring different models, including the possibility of setting up some sort of subscription service.
The other five books in the launch list will be released in spring 2016. Talbot hopes to eventually do one book a month. Other titles include Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Dick Russell, which will look at energy company executives and politicians who are blocking progress on fighting climate change; Is Islam the Problem…Or Is it You? by human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar; Spooking the News by Nick Schou which examines how U.S. intelligence agencies manipulate journalists; and Bravehearts by Mark Hertsgaard, about what happened to five whistleblowers.