Traditional medicine has always been the mainstay of the health category. And its books reflected that by tending toward a "just the facts" approach that advocated conservative treatment options, all wrapped up in a staid package. But as the medical establishment has begun to embrace a more holistic view, titles dealing with everything from overall health to conditions like diabetes, autism, and cancer are reflecting the change in attitude, say publishers.
A prime example of this trend is Spontaneous Happiness (Little, Brown, Nov.) by Dr. Andrew Weil, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine whose 15 bestsellers have sold more than 10 million copies. With his latest book, Weil shifts his focus to mental health, drawing on techniques from ayurveda, Buddhism, acupuncture, and psychotherapy and offering advice on how lifestyle, behavior, and dietary changes can help people attain emotional wellness.
"What I've learned from Dr. Weil over the years is that a great deal of alternative medicine has now been proven by science—look at omega-3s and vitamin D, for instance," says LB executive editor Tracy Behar. "I no longer think in terms of ‘alternative' and ‘conventional' medicine."
From Behar's vantage point—editing a list "tightly focused on health, psychology, and self-help, parenting, science, and reference" that also includes the Sears family and Dr. Joel Fuhrman—she sees an integrative approach that empowers people to take control of their own health as key to success. "Self-care is king," says Behar. "The health books that sell these days put treatment largely into the hands of the consumer."
To that point, this season many publishers are putting forth titles that present new perspectives on health and concrete strategies for improving wellness, be it mental or physical.
Free Press editor-in-chief Dominick Anfuso has high expectations for The End of Illness: A New Perspective That Changes Everything (Dec.) by Dr. David B. Agus. A well-known cancer specialist and researcher, Agus also founded the popular Oncology.com Web site. The book advocates for a larger concept of treating health as a system, but also makes specific recommendations. "This book will radically change what you do day-to-day and how you think about your body and health," says Anfuso. "Dr. Agus believes we can extend our lives by 10 years by changing the way we look at health."
The correlation between health and happiness is at the center of the latest in Harlequin's How Happy Is series from happiness expert and life coach Sophie Keller, How Happy Is Your Health? 50 Great Tips to Help You Live a Long, Happy and Healthy Life (Dec.), which offers guidance on which supplements to take on a daily basis, how to avoid common toxins, and how enzymes can improve health.
And several publishers are tackling a notorious strain on overall well-being: stress. Free Press has taken key tips from its most popular hardback titles by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael F. Roizen and repackaged them into the portable, small-format You: Stress Less (Oct.). Tamar Chansky's Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: The 4-Step Plan to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want (Da Capo Lifelong, Dec.) addresses ways to deal with anxiety without medication. And from Watkins (dist. by Sterling) comes Richard Brennan's Change Your Posture, Change Your Life: How the Power of the Alexander Technique Can Combat Back Pain, Tension and Stress (Jan.), which offers a physical approach to releasing muscle tension and restoring ease of movement.
Rowman and Littlefield are seeking to help consumers navigate the often frustrating health care maze. Dr. Richard Klein's Surviving Your Doctors: Why the Medical System Is Dangerous to Your Health and How to Get Through It Alive (Aug.) and Fred and Jessica Leavitt's Improving Medical Outcomes: The Psychology of Doctor-Patient Visits (Oct.) each provide valuable advice on how patients can ensure their needs are met.
"Today, health care professionals are embracing a consumer desire for a more complete approach to health and wellness," says Kara Van de Water, senior publicist for Crown's Ten Speed Press and its health and wellness–focused Celestial Arts imprint. Smart at Heart: A Holistic 10-Step Approach to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease for Women by Dr. Malissa Wood and Dimity McDowell (Dec.) comes from a Harvard-trained cardiologist who is also codirector of the Women's Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Wood draws on her clinical experience and the findings from a three-year holistic heart health study to outline a "breakthrough mind-body program for women at risk for—or diagnosed with—heart disease, the number one killer of American women."
What Ails You
Trends in diagnoses also drive the topics publishers feature on their lists. The number of books on any specific condition necessarily ebbs and flows, driven by demand and the strength of backlist titles already in the marketplace. For example, in the past few years PW has noted numerous new titles on autism spectrum disorder for this feature, but this year received news of only one: Dr. Ricki Robinson's Autism Solutions: How to Create a Healthy and Meaningful Life for Your Child (Harlequin, Mar. 2011).
The proliferation of titles focused on diabetes is notable and corresponds to statistics indicating the disease is on the rise. Figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January saw a jump from 23.6 million Americans with diabetes in 2008 to 26 million this year. New books on the topic range from The Diabetes Miracle: 3 Simple Steps to Prevent and Control Diabetes and Regain Your Health Permanently by Diane Kress (Da Capo Lifelong, Nov.) to last fall's The Type 2 Diabetes Handbook: Six Rules for Staying Healthy with Type 2 Diabetes by Rod Colvin and Dr. James T. Lane (Addicus).
In June, the American Diabetes Association released an updated fifth edition of its flagship consumer self-care title, American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes. First published in 1996, this comprehensive work has more than 750,000 copies in print.
Those in search of a more irreverent approach may turn to Demos Health, a consumer imprint launched in 2007 by Demos Medical Publishing. Executive director Noreen Henson says that in terms of titles dealing with diabetes, Demos has positioned itself as "the American Diabetes Association's hip little sister." A medical memoir about an eating disorder among Type 1 diabetics that involves manipulating insulin to avoid weight gain, Eating to Lose: Healing from a Life of Diabulimia by Maryjeanne Hunt is due in January.
And this past January, Demos published The Diabetes Manifesto: Take Charge of Your Life by Julie Stachowiak and Lynn Crowe. Don't be fooled by the title. "The idea behind this one was that the authors were so sick of hearing how brave they were and how all the books tried to put a positive spin on diabetes—when in fact it kind of sucks," says Henson.
Little, Brown will also publish a newly revised and expanded edition of its 1997 guide, Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, in November—Diabetes Awareness Month. "It's the gold standard as far as diabetes books go," says Tracy Behar. She cites the book—which deals with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes—as an example of the type of science-based health book that can stay in hardcover much longer than possible in most other categories. In fact, Dr. Bernstein's book hasn't yet gone into paperback.
While most conditions may come and go from lists as diagnoses wax and wane or research stagnates, cancer is—unfortunately—an unflagging topic of interest. HCI is adding to its series from Raymond Francis, whose Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It is a perennial seller, with this month's Never Fear Cancer Again: How to Prevent and Reverse Cancer. Coming from Skyhorse in September is Fred Ho's Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior: Fighting Cancer and Capitalism at the Cellular Level, a memoir in journal form. Also due in September are two second editions from Addicus, Dr. Paul Ruggieri and Dr. Addison Tolentino's Colon & Rectal Cancer: A Patient's Guide to Treatment and Dr. Walter Scott's Lung Cancer: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment.
In October, Red Wheel/Weiser's Conari Press imprint is publishing Breast Cancer: 50 Essential Things You Can Do by Greg Anderson; the 15,000-copy first print is based on strong early support from bookstores and specialty channels. And in November, Square One offers Beyond the Magic Bullet—The Anti-Cancer Cocktail: A New Approach to Beating Cancer by Dr. Raymond Chang, which explains how multiple treatments may be more effective.
Also coming from Square One are Your Blood Never Lies: How to Read a Blood Test to Save Your Life by James B. LaValle (Feb.), an effort to demystify this ubiquitous procedure, and Free from Hepatitis C: Your Complete Guide to Healing Hepatitis C by Lucinda K. Porter (Nov.). Publisher Rudy Shur says these titles exemplify the philosophy of choosing books "to be used more for individual preference and selection rather than as a blanket approach to personal health."
There are, of course, books dealing with a host of other concerns. As baby boomers continue to age, the field is only likely to see more titles like Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age by Michael J. Gelb and Kelly Howell (New World Library, Jan.), summarizing research and techniques for keeping the mind young while the body ages.
Protecting brain function is also the subject of Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan's The Alzheimer's Prevention Program (Workman, Nov.). "With health expenses skyrocketing, people often turn to books for their medical sleuthing," says senior editor Mary Ellen O'Neill.
St. Martin's 2012 diverse slate includes Dr. Paul Rizzoli, Dr. Elizabeth Loder, and Liz Neporent's The Migraine Solution: A Complete Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pain Management (Jan.); Dr. Julie Silver's You Can Heal Yourself: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Recovery After Injury or Illness (Feb.); and Deborah Mitchell's The Women's Pill Book: Your Complete Guide to Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications (Mar.).
A September Simon & Schuster title addresses a health concern that's been much in the news of late. The Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic by health writer Linda Carroll and sports writer David Rosner is the first book of several expected on the subject. "Sports concussions are a hot topic, and several books are being written about different facets of this issue," says senior editor Roger Labrie. But, he says, not only is this the first to market, "It's also the first one to put today's headlines in human perspective."
Off the Eaten Path
These days, it's impossible to consider the health category without talking about nutrition. While "diet" books remain a separate niche, there's increasing overlap between titles that promote weight loss and those that help people get healthy. Dr. Arthur Agatston's The South Beach Diet, for example, was clearly a diet book, offering eating strategies for staying slim. But it's also true that Agatston has a physician's motivation in advocating the diet he does. Rodale is excited about his The South Beach Wake-Up Call: 7 Simple Strategies for Age-Reversing, Life-Saving Weight Loss and Better Health (Oct.)
As an editor, Rodale publishing director Pam Krauss says it might appear there's a bigger difference than there is between editing cooking/lifestyle books, which tend to be more personal in nature, and health books, which start with science. She likens the need to test and retest recipes in a good cookbook to the requirements a health book faces to be taken seriously.
"Some of the best health writers also have a very distinct point of view and a passion for the subject," says Krauss. "In the case of Dr. Agatston, the new book is a testament to his passion and commitment to help America turn away from the toxic lifestyle we've become accustomed to."
Dr. William Davis's Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health (Sept.) is another Rodale offering that links nutrition, weight, and health. Krauss adds, "There's no question that diet has become central to the conversation."
HarperOne offers two nutrition-related titles: Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Our Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free (Sept.), touting a list of superfoods and including 85 recipes, and Dr. Alejandro Junger's Clean for Life: A Doctor's Guide to Taking Back Your Health and Vitality in a Toxic World (Mar.), which features weekly meal plans and lists of toxic and healthy foods.
Simon and Schuster's Touchstone imprint hopes its Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean, and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat by Nell Stephenson (May) will address a neglected segment of the audience for the "Paleo" lifestyle, also called the "caveman diet." Senior editor Michelle Howry says that nearly all the authors of books in this area are men and that the Touchstone team found their books "really tough and testosterone-laden." What the publisher saw in the data, however, was that many women were signing on to the lifestyle.
Touchstone is positioning the title "as a Skinny Bitch or Hungry Girl for the Paleo set," says Howry. "It's a health book, but it makes the healthy Paleo lifestyle easy, appealing, and even a little sexy."