Eleven-year-old Austin, Tex.—based Bard Press, which has one full-time employee (founder Ray Bard) and publishes one or two books a year, has an uncanny ability to turn out business bestsellers, with 14 of its 27 titles hitting national lists. Its most recent bestseller is The Age of Speed: Learning to Thrive in a More-Faster-Now World by former Olympic gold medalist-turned business consultant Vince Poscente. Since being released on September 4, the book, which takes a counterintuitive approach to speed—make more time by going faster—is already on the New York Times's Advice/How-To list and hit #1 on the Wall Street Journal's Business list, as well as #8 on the WSJ Nonfiction list.
Poscente may have surprised booksellers with the velocity of his sales as he did sports fans with his rapid transition into an Olympic athlete. (He didn't learn to ski until he was 26, and at 30 he set a Canadian speed skiing record in the 1992 winter games.) But Bard's distributor, National Book Network, is well aware of the press's ability to make bestsellers. “Ray has a real talent for knowing what will work. He also only signs authors who are willing to work really hard to help him market their titles,” said NBN senior v-p Marianne Bohr.
Business book retailers Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, partners in 800-CEO-READ, who read an early draft of Poscente's book, said that “speed” could be the next big business concept after “change.” Although they question whether Speed will be the top book in the speed category, for them the fact that the book is published by Bard could make that moot. Citing Bard's impressive ratio of bestsellers to total books published, Sattersten said, “New York publishers are like mutual funds. Ray's a stock picker.”
One of the reasons Bard signed Poscente was that he already has a strong platform. He gives 100 talks a year, and together his first three books, which he self-published—The Ant and the Elephant, Invinceable Principles and Silver Bullets—have more than 100,000 copies in print. A cold call to Bard author Tom Connellan (Inside the Magic Kingdom) persuaded Poscente to publish with Bard. “Tom basically said self-publishing was not the way to go for a big book,” said Poscente. “His advice: call Ray Bard. When I found out that Bard had the highest ratio of bestselling business books in the nation, I was even more interested.”
Both Borders and Barnes & Noble have gotten behind The Age of Speed with front-of-store displays at pub date. Borders is discounting the book 20%, while Barnes & Noble is planning a second display for Christmas. Poscente is currently on a 20-city tour organized by publicist Barbara Cave Henricks, which includes stops in Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston.
Bard is on course to sell out Speed's first printing of 70,000 copies, and the book has a chance to become Bard's sixth title to sell more than 100,000 copies, although it still has a way to go to catch the publisher's all-time seller; Little Red Book of Selling has sold more than 500,000 copies since it was published in 2004.