This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends.
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Be it tweets, blog posts, or marketing materials, content produced by book publishers is traditionally about the books they publish. But that’s not always the case. Some publishers are hosting blogs with “publisher agnostic” content, meaning the site will feature books and authors they don’t publish. In fact, some of these websites all but obscure the fact that they’re hosted by a major publisher, which raises a question: why? Why promote books and authors they don’t publish? And why are publishers keeping their name off of the content they’re publishing online? Each of the three people interviewed said, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” a comforting and fitting aphorism that answers a question that they must be asked often.
Before looking at today’s digital landscape of publishers sharing books they don’t publish, let’s go back to 1984 when a Random House sales rep, Carl Lennertz, wrote what he called “The Random Report.” It was a newsletter that went out to bookstores promoting Random House’s forthcoming titles and whatever promising titles were coming from the competition, as well as a few personal notes. Highlighting books from publishers other than Random House made him a favorite among independent bookstores, — and, of course, the publishers whose books he promoted.
Lennertz, now the Executive Director of The Children’s Book Circle, took his newsletter online after the advent of digital; soon after he went on to start what is now IndieBound. Perhaps the first publisher to talk up books that weren’t their own online was Tor, which launched Tor.com in 2008. The site’s Associate Publisher, Irene Gallo, describes it as a three-pronged operation: a daily blog about all things science fiction and fantasy-related, a community of readers, and a publisher. The key here is that they cover all things science fiction- and fantasy-related, not just related to or about books published by Tor or Tor.com.
Tor.com isn’t alone. Penguin Random House has a group of sites that publishes content not exclusively about their own books, including Suvudu, also a sci-fi and fantasy site; Signature, which is focused on current events and the news; and Hazlitt, a site simply focused on “the best stories.”
And then there is a publisher-hosted site that falls somewhere in the middle: Epic Reads. Epic Reads is an online community and website for YA fans. Though it’s not immediately obvious, this is a HarperCollins site, which readers can discern from a HarperCollins copyright down at the bottom of the webpage. The only books sold on their site are published by HarperCollins, but all of the site’s original content is publisher agnostic. Read More