Submissions that arrive over the transom can sometimes pay off in big sales, as Inner Traditions/Bear & Co. in Rochester, Vt., is learning with one of its fastest-selling titles, Colleen Craig's Pilates on the Ball ($18.95 paperback original), published in October under the Healing Arts Press imprint. After three trips back to press, the book, the first to adapt the Pilates technique to the exercise ball, has 43,000 copies in print. "My problem," explained Rob Meadows, v-p of sales and marketing, "is keeping the book in print."
Launched with a promotional campaign last fall that included a postcard mailing to 3,000 reviewers and booksellers, and radio interviews with the author, a certified Pilates instructor in Canada, Pilates on the Ball just keeps selling. Currently, the book is hovering just above the #500 spot on Amazon.com's bestsellers list. At some independents, it has even outdone the bestselling Pilates title on the market, Brooke Siler's The Pilates Body (Broadway, Jan. 2000), one of the first books to popularize Pilates exercises by demonstrating how they can be done at home without a lot of equipment. "The Pilates Body is one of our strongest backlist books," noted Broadway assistant director of publicity David Drake, adding that it has a half million copies in print.
At Stacey's Bookstore in San Francisco, Calif., trade backlist buyer Peggy Vickers describes herself as "a major Pilates fan." Although the store has separate sections for yoga and Pilates, she features them together in endcaps and on display tables. Like yoga, she believes, Pilates has staying power. "Pilates has been around too long and works too well to be flavor-of-the-month," she said.
For Maria Rapolla, associate buyer for the 170 Discovery Channel Stores, the Pilates fad has not peaked. "It's still a hot topic," she said, "and Pilates on the Ball has been a phenomenal book for us." At her stores, the book is cross-merchandised with Pilates videos, the exercise ball and mats; Rapolla has observed a spike in sales whenever the book is featured on the front table.
At West Coast distributor Bookpeople, Pilates books are strong. "We carry 52 Pilates titles," said sales and marketing director Judy Wheeler. "All are selling above trend--trend is our average per month--which means sales are increasing on this topic." On the East Coast, Jim Di Miero, director of marketing at Koen Books, also finds, "There's a demand for Pilates books. I was astonished. We're showing active titles from a myriad of publishers."
Although Inner Traditions' Meadows estimates that well over half the sales to date for Pilates on the Ball have originated from distributors that supply the independents, momentum for the book is starting to pick up in chain superstores. Recently, Barnes & Noble agreed to include Craig's book on its "Get Fit for Summer" promotion table, which will be up from mid-June through mid-July.
Craig trained as a ballet dancer and then wrote for the stage and screen for more than two decades before becoming a Pilates teacher. It was her chance discovery of Inner Traditions' Body Rolling: An Experiential Approach to Complete Muscle Release, by Yamuna Zake and Stephanie Golden, that led her to include the publisher in her book proposal mailing. Out of 20 houses in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada, "Inner Traditions was the only publisher that stuck with me," Craig said. While writing Pilates on the Ball, Craig also produced a companion video.
Although she has no immediate plans to write another book on Pilates, booksellers will have no problem finding new titles to choose from. Between January and August, 15 Pilates books are scheduled to be released, from ones on back pain and pregnancy to basic books like Ellie Herman's Pilates for Dummies (Hungry Minds, Apr.).