This year, a fresh wave of Beatlemania is sweeping the nation, thanks in part to the November release of Peter Jackson’s acclaimed docu-series The Beatles: Get Back. A renewed appetite among readers for Beatles books has shot two titles—The Beatles: Get Back and Paul McCartney’s The Lyrics—onto the bestseller list. We took a look at both titles and spoke to the minds behind them.
The Beatles: Get Back
by the Beatles (Callaway Arts & Entertainment)
Pub date: October 12
Page count: 240
YTD sales (per BookScan): 61,300
“Eighteen months ago, Callaway devised a global launch plan to support Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back film trilogy in collaboration with Apple Corps, the Walt Disney Company, Universal Music Group, WingNut Films, the Wylie Agency—which assembled a 10-language simultaneous co-edition—and our distributors: Ingram in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., and our international English-export distributor, Thames & Hudson. We integrated our combined marketing, sales, and publicity efforts for this once-in-a-lifetime project.
“We published The Beatles: Get Back in more than 100 countries and 10 languages. We reserved paper and press time for a year, and began manufacturing last February. More than 450,000 copies of the book are now in print worldwide, across 12 printings, with additional printings and languages on the way. We have also applied our latest strategies with regard to e-commerce, social media, and smart digital advertising campaigns to create billions of consumer impressions and heighten and sustain global awareness. The success of the book, the film, and the music releases prove yet again that the Beatles reign as the most beloved artists in the world.”—Nicholas Callaway, founder and publisher of Callaway Arts and Entertainment
The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present
by Paul McCartney (Liveright)
Pub date: November 2
Page count: 960
YTD sales (per BookScan): 126,100
“I had published Paul before, publishing his poetry in 2001. Then, in about 2013 or 2014, Paul’s brother-in-law, John Eastman, and I went to Paul and said that I would like to annotate his lyrics. Of course, when I first approached him, I never thought it would be two volumes or would include 154 song lyrics or would become a $100 book. But surprisingly, it grew into this celebration of his work which is also a kind of autobiography told through lyrics—something we never expected.
“I paired Paul with Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, who spent 24 sessions with him, and suddenly the book took on a force all of its own. There was so much excitement and creative energy involved in the project, and Paul himself got so excited about the editorial possibilities of the book that he kept providing more and more material. We knew we were working on something special, but we didn’t quite know what. I don’t know that there’s ever been a book by a rock musician like this before. The contents of The Lyrics are totally original, both in terms of the commentary on individual songs and also all the imagery—about half the images in the book have never been seen before.
“The public has responded in a huge way, to both the genius of Paul’s lyrics and the quality of the book. I’m happy to work for a publisher where they allow us to do these kinds of quality books. The Lyrics hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list its first week. I’ve been in publishing 43 years—I’ve never had a #1 bestseller. Paul has always said that he wants to push the barriers, to do something no one else has done. And I always felt that that mantra was playing in the back of my head as we were working on The Lyrics—that I couldn’t disappoint him.”
Robert Weil is the editor-in-chief and publishing director of Liveright Publishing.