The ancient art of feng shui is ringing up new sales for Storey Books in North Adams, Mass. The 18-year-old press, which was recently acquired by Workman Publishing (News, June 11), has had its biggest success yet, with more than 140,000 copies sold of last fall's paperback edition of Angi Ma Wong's Feng Shui Dos & Taboos. The title was previously self-published by Ma Wong's own Pacific Heritage press in 1999.
"It has sold into the traditional trade markets, but has done especially well with gift accounts and at Target," Storey's publicity manager, Jeff Theis, told PW— and that's with relatively little publicity. It wasn't until last May that Storey sent Ma Wong on tour. An appearance on the Discovery Channel's Home Matters that will re-air through the fall is expected to boost sales further.
Part of the reason for the staying power of Ma Wong's book, which has simple tips from A (altar) to Z (zodiac), is no doubt due in part to the author herself. (Making use of her own tips probably helped as well.) But Ma Wong, a feng shui consultant whose clients range from Universal Studios to Bank of America, Motorola and the Four Seasons Hotels is a master networker. She has so much charisma, according to Storey editorial director Deborah Balmuth, that her foreword to Kristin M. Lagatree's 1996 book, Feng Shui: Arranging Your Home to Change Your Life (Villard), persuaded Oprah to book her for the show to discuss Lagatree's book.
"Angi really knows how to make the most of any promotional opportunity," said Balmuth, who was so taken by a chance meeting with her at a Hobby Industry Association Show that she signed up the author for the Storey title practically on the spot. Storey's version of the book is shorter and simpler than the original, and a lot less expensive, $7.95 versus $17.95. It is also packaged in an easy-to-hold 4¼-inch square format, reminiscent of kids' chunky books, and comes with a counter display, a Storey first.
A year later, Storey's efforts to reposition Feng Shui Dos & Taboos as an impulse buy continue to pay off. "It's amazing how many people are into feng shui," commented bookseller Arthur Wemegah of Coliseum Books in New York City, which has sold dozens of copies of the Storey edition. Not that the lengthier tome doesn't have its advocates, too. "We're selling anywhere from 75 to 105 a month [of the original edition], which is good for us," said Rich Bellezza, treasurer and CEO of New Leaf Distributors. "Feng shui continues to be one of our top areas. The market is not saturated for our customers."