Parade magazine, though still slim as ever, has been especially book-heavy of late. In addition to an origin ally commissioned piece by Harold Evans, author of They Made America (Little, Brown), the October 24 issue featured the recently launched column "Parade Picks," with capsule reviews of Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Volume One (S&S), Robert Timberg's State of Grace (Free Press) and a handful of recommended DVD, CDs and games.
If Parade's track record is any indication, the column is likely to have a positive effect on book sales. Last month, a cover story on Parade contributing editor James Webb's Born Fighting (Broadway), about his Scots-Irish heritage, initiated its jump to #7 from #70,005 on Amazon.com. And an August 29 cover story on coach Joe Ehrmann, the subject of Jeffrey Marx's Season of Life (S&S), helped the book rise to #2 from #1,003 on Amazon the day the article appeared.
But will an item in a bimonthly column that only partially addresses books have the same weight as a Parade cover story or interview? Though the column is only a month old, the evidence so far is encouraging: Janusz Korczak's King Matt the First (Algonquin), a children's book republished in paperback, was an October 10 "Parade Pick." That same weekend, its Amazon ranking skyrocketed to #106 from well below the 0ne-million mark.
What makes the 63-year-old Sunday newspaper supplement such a potent force is its reach: its whopping 75-million readership positions it as the most widely read magazine in America. It's also a publication that has been receptive to writers. Parade's masthead included contributing editors Norman Mailer and David Halberstam before editor-in-chief Lee Kravitz arrived in the spring of 2002. And Kravitz, who previously served as editorial director at Scholastic Inc., has added a few prominent contributing editors of his own, most notably bestselling author Bruce Feiler. He has also been buying first serial rights and publishing book excerpts, as well as adaptations from the works of authors such as Michael Crichton and Mitch Albom. The result, Kravitz said, is that "our readers are reading a story that moves them to buy books."
Kravitz's reasoning behind launching "Parade Picks" was "to have a place in the magazine that would tune readers into good stuff—stuff we think they'd like." The column was developed under his direction by contributing editor Gerri Hirshey. In what Kravitz calls a "broad process of review," the whole staff takes part in choosing the books to be featured.
Though already admittedly inundated with submissions, Kravitz wants publishers to feel free to send books his way. "We're going to be helping books that may have an audience," he said, "but also those that may not have otherwise."