In an attempt to take advantage of the "visual bounty" of Clarkson Potter books and growing interest in ancillary gift lines among booksellers and other customers, Potter Style is revving up its line of stationery, journals and other gift items.
Leading that effort is Chris Navratil, who joined the five-year-old imprint last year as editorial director after spending 13 years at Chronicle Books. Since Navratil's February 2006 arrival, Potter Style has broadened its output to include "high content" items that combine the blank spaces of a journal with the narrative text of a book, and Navratil said the fall 2007 list will contain "some big surprises."
Potter Style's list now encompasses more than 300 titles, some spinoffs from books but many original productions. In addition to stationery and journals, there are coasters, address books, postcards and organizers. Each spring, summer and fall, Potter Style produces 25 to 30 new items. Print runs range from 7,500 to 10,000 for notecards and blank journals, and into the six figures for higher content items such as 2006's bestselling journal for moms-to-be, The Belly Book, a combination diary/medical advice book.
While other publishers produce gift items, Navratil thinks some houses shy away from doing so because compared to bestselling novels, notecards and journals "may not initially appear as glamorous." But the gift market presents great opportunities, he said, and with "a different mindset," publishers can see impressive results. "Our expectations for our higher content projects are in line with how we'd expect a book to perform," he said.
Navratil acknowledged he has drawn on his Chronicle background to expand Potter Style, but noted that the houses differ in the categories they focus on and the kinds of properties they represent. Where Chronicle's products are aimed at a young, pop-oriented demographic, Potter's projects attract a slightly older, more affluent consumer, mainly female (keeping in line with Clarkson Potter's list of authors, which includes Giada De Laurentiis and Martha Stewart).
Potter Style has five employees solely devoted to the imprint, with Clarkson Potter and Crown employees handling functions like marketing, publicity and production. Navratil reports to Clarkson Potter publisher Lauren Shakely. Random House gift reps sell Potter Style items to the gift market, and its trade reps sell the list to its usual accounts, including B&N and Borders. Since Navratil's arrival, sales of Potter Style's boxed notecards and mini- journals (like What I Read and What I Tasted: A Wine Lover's Mini Journal) have increased in independent bookstores and chains, while items such as the Cabinet of Curiosities Gift Tags have performed well in specialty stores like Anthropologie.
Among the fall '07 "surprises" are items produced in formats that are "entirely new to the marketplace," Navratil claimed, including A Box of Boxes, a box filled with gift boxes, and "lifestyle activity decks" derived from books.