If you liked the old Phaidon, the formerly U.K.-based illustrated book publisher—known for lavishly produced books on contemporary art, design, food, and architecture—then you’ll love the new Phaidon. In 2012, the press was acquired by Leon Black, CEO of Apollo Global Management, from Richard Schlagman, who owned Phaidon since 1990. The change in ownership has led to new hires, some restructuring, and a move to new offices in New York, near SoHo—all in an effort to keep Phaidon a leader in the global market for illustrated books. The publisher has an impressive fall list that includes a line of cookbooks by acclaimed international chefs, oversized works on contemporary art and photography, and a big new volume on international interior design.
“We still have a London and a U.S. office,” said longtime Phaidon publicity director Liz Thompson, “and we’re still a global publisher, but we’re an American publishing house now.” Since the acquisition by Black, the company has hired Keith Fox as CEO; transferred Emilia Terragani, cookbook and architecture publisher and editorial director, from London to the New York office; and added Regan Arts, a new Phaidon division headed by high-profile editor Judith Regan. The company also hired Deb Aaronson, who was at Abrams, as v-p and group publisher; Emily Takoudes, who was previously at Clarkson Potter, as commissioning editor of cookbooks; and Jacky Klein, who was formerly with Thames and Hudson, as a commissioning editor of art books for the London Phaidon office.
Phaidon publishes roughly 60 books each year (there are 35 titles on its fall list). The New York office has about 25 employees, and there are 60 staffers in London.“The export market continues to be important to us,” Terragani said. “Asia is incredibly important for architecture. Australia [is a major market] for our food books, and China is an important new market.”
Phaidon’s fall list includes five cookbooks, led by Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte—a mammoth 700-page collection of Mexican recipes with die-cut cover art. Terragani described Mexico as a follow-up to The Silver Spoon, Phaidon’s recent bestselling update of a classic Italian cookbook first published in the 1950s. She called the new collection a “food bible”—Arronte is a noted Mexican food author and TV personality—and said it will launch with a 125,000-copy first printing. Other fall cookbooks include Chop, Sizzle, Wow: The Silver Spoon Comic Book by Adriano Rampazzo, a graphic cookbook with recipes done in comic book style, and the Cookbook Book by Annahita Kamali and Florian Bohm, a giant work collecting images of 120 celebrated cookbooks (including covers and interior pages) dating back 100 years.
In the art category, Phaidon is publishing The 21st Century Art Book this fall, the latest successor to earlier Phaidon bestselling compilations such as The 20th Century Art Book and The Art Book—oversized titles designed to provide accessible information and reproductions. The 21st Century Art Book features works by hundreds of artists; each piece gets a page, with image and text. Other fall art titles include Shooting Space: Architecture in Contemporary Photography by Elias Redstone—which includes photos of innovative buildings, as well as images of fantasy architecture—and Room: Inside Contemporary Interiors, a selection of 100 dazzling contemporary interior spaces chosen by a panel of 10 international curators.
The old Phaidon had a knack for promoting and marketing its titles, organizing panels and symposia that turned the books’ releases into events. Phaidon just created an events page for its website, and Thompson noted several successful recent events, including one for chef Rene Redzepi (Rene Redzepi: A Work in Progress) that drew 800 people to the Castro Theater in San Francisco; actress Meryl Streep (and her husband sculptor Don Gummer) was on hand for the New York reception for art critic Peter Plagens’s new book, Bruce Nauman: The True Artist. Thompson said to expect more of the same from the new Phaidon. “Look for major events and book tours,” she said. “We’re looking for new ideas and partners; there will be apps, and we’ve got a video team that shoots book trailers.” Phaidon launches its books simultaneously in global markets around the world; Takoudes called the practice a “global blowout—it really helps authors.”