Low-carb is dead! Long live... what? "At present, there is no health craze to capture the customer's imagination," says B&N buyer Edward Ash-Milby. "There isn't any diet craze to take the place of the low-carb diet that I can see in the future, either."
Reliance on platform and brand names—of both authors and institutions—always intense with diet and fitness titles,has been further heightened during what Ash-Milby calls a "lull" in the category.
Yet Crown executive editor Heather Jackson points to an inherent risk: publishers, she says, may find themselves in a "be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario where we're under contract with people who have wonderful abilities to get out to places via a platform, but very little time to focus on their books." Platforms have their limits, too. Ash-Milby cautions that although "brand name counts to a degree, in the end it's the quality of the book's content and the accessibility of the information that remain key."
Below are 14 books publishers believe hit that target squarely, making them contenders to be the next big thing. In defiance of the category, we've selected Heavyweights (big books, big printings) and Lightweights (could also be big, but have an unusual or amusing take on their topic). Books are listed in order of announced first print runs.
Title: The Best Life Diet
Author: Bob Greene
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Dec., $26)
First printing: 1,250,000
Why it's hot: Oprah wrote the intro for this latest offering from her personal trainer. "Oprah promoting a book makes a huge difference," says S&S senior editor Sydny Miner. "She's always been so honest about her issues with food and why she eats, and her honesty resonates."
Title: Extreme Fat Smash
Author: Ian K. Smith, M.D.
Publisher: St. Martin's (May, $12.95 paper)
First printing: 500,000
Why it's hot: Publisher Matthew Shear says this follow-up to the bestselling The Fat Smash Diet "is for when you need to lose the pounds a little faster, like you've got a wedding coming up and you're trying to get into your dress or your old tuxedo." TV ads are scheduled during VH1's Celebrity Fit Club,which features the author as a medical/diet expert.
Title: The Gold Coast Cure's Fitter, Firmer, Faster Program
Author: Andrew Larson, M.D., and Ivy Ingram Larson
Publisher: HCI (Jan., $15.95 paper)
First printing: 75,000
Why it's hot: Executive editor Allison Janse says, "This book focuses on real life. The exercises work in only 30 minutes three times a week; the balanced whole foods recommendations are family friendly."
Title: The Structure House Weight Loss Plan
Author: Gerard J. Musante
Publisher: Fireside (Apr., $24)
First printing: 50,000
Why it's hot: Residents of the Structure House Center for Weight Control and Lifestyle Change in Durham, N.C., lose an average of more than 6% of their weight over a four-week stay, but such services don't come cheap. Fireside publisher Mark Gompertz says, "We hope that with this book, people who can't afford the Structure House $10,000 fee will also benefit from it."
Title: You: On a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management
Author: Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
Publisher: Free Press (Oct., $25)
First printing: 750,000
Why it's hot: Written in the same jocular style of the authors' You: The Owner's Manual(Harper Resource, 2005), which has 1.5 million copies in print, the book gives you 20 "aha moments" in any one chapter, says Free Press editorial director Dominick Anfuso.
The book lands in first place on this week's nonfiction bestseller list.
Title: The Duke Diet
Author: Howard J. Eisenson, M.D., and Martin Binks
Publisher: Ballantine (Apr., $25.95)
First printing: 250,000
Why it's hot: Ballantine executive editor Caroline Sutton observes, "People are so tired of the gimmicky diets." Enter this plan from the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, founded in 1969, with Waterfront Media launching a companion Web site in January.
Title: Rethinking Thin
Author: Gina Kolata
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (May, $24)
First printing: 50,000
Why it's hot: Senior editor Paul Elie says, "Gina blends cultural history with the 'new science' of weight loss. She casts a cold eye on most diets and diet theories, while keeping in mind that most of us would like to be trimmer, if only slightly."
Title: The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love & Still Lose Weight
Author: Linda Gassenheimer
Publisher: DK (Jan., $17.95 paper)
First printing: 35,000
Why it's hot: The life-size color photos illustrate everything from comparing an 800-calorie hamburger vs. a 414-calorie version to a proper bowl of breakfast cereal—images that "will help people when they're in the real world," says Carl Raymond, publishing director for DK adult books.
Title: LL Cool J's Platinum Workout
Author: LL Cool J and Dave Honig with Jeff O'Connell
Publisher: Rodale (Jan., $27.95)
First printing: 200,000
Why it's hot: Photos of the singer's six-pack abs are interspersed with nutritional info in a stylish layout. Rodale executive editor Nancy Hancock says, "It's a high-energy workout, and the book needed a certain energy level as well."
Title: The Reverse Diet: Lose 20, 50, 100 Pounds or More by Eating Dinner for Breakfast
Author: Tricia Cunningham and Heidi Skolnik
Publisher: Wiley (Jan., $24.95)
First printing: 50,000
Why it's hot: As Cunningham explained last year on Good Morning America, she lost more than 150 pounds on the topsy-turvy plan. Wiley executive editor Thomas Miller says, "The hook of the diet is simple to understand and nutritionally sound."
Title: The Skinny: How to Fit into Your Little Black Dress Forever
Author: Melissa Clark and Robin Aronson
Publisher: Meredith (Dec., $22.95)
First printing: 40,000
Why it's hot:According to Meredith executive food editor Jennifer Darling, this title offers "that whole chick lit attitude," which is carried through in the book's slender trim size and front-cover image of a slim torso.
Title: The Orgasmic Diet: A Revolutionary Plan to Lift Your Libido and Bring You to Orgasm
Author: Marrena Lindberg
Publisher: Crown (Apr., $23.95)
First printing: 75,000
Why it's hot: "This is both a sex book and a diet book," says Crown executive editor Heather Jackson. "For too many years women with libido issues have been told to relax or take a bubble bath, when there are real physiological reasons for this issue."
Title: The Art of Pole Dancing: A Spin-by-Spin Guide
Author: Peekaboo Pole Dancing Ltd.
Publisher: Sterling (Nov., $9.95 paper)
First printing: 56,000 (26,000 announced, 30,000 pre-pub reprint)
Why it's hot: According to USA Todayand other publications, pole dancing has become popular at health clubs across the country. Still, the book's line drawings are pretty racy. Quips Sterling publisher Charles Nurnberg, "If I told you it was a fitness book, would you believe me?"
Title: The Wine and Food Lover's Diet: 28 Days of Delicious Weight Loss
Author: Phillip Tirman, M.D.
Publisher: Chronicle (Jan., $24.95 paper)
First printing: 25,000
Why it's hot: Sticking to this book's appealing recipes (Seafood Cakes with Lemon Crème Fraîche, Spicy Grilled Baby Back Ribs) have done the trick for Chronicle's editorial director for cookbooks, Bill LeBlond: he's already lost 10 pounds on the diet.