Though this year’s list of fast-growing independent houses counts only seven publishers, entrepreneurs looking to crack into publishing should not be too discouraged. The two fastest-growing publishers on the list are relatively new, proving that even in an era when publishing models are in flux, people with good ideas and the ability to execute them can make a mark on the industry.
After being in publishing for more than 20 years working for such publishers as Random House, Black Dog & Leventhal, and Quarto Publishing, Will Kiester struck out on his own in 2013, and so far the results have been very encouraging. His new company, Page Street Publishing, released 13 titles in its first year, but upped its output to 34 last year, helping drive a 289% increase in revenue since Page Street’s launch.
The company has built a backlist of 70 titles over the past three years, with cookbooks representing 70% of its list. “We consider ourselves a general lifestyle publisher and publish into health, parenting, crafts, popular science, and other categories when we find talented authors with something important and valuable to say,” Kiester says.
Page Street’s main line is composed of a 192-page trade paperback series with titles priced at around $20 each. The books each feature either 100 recipes and 60 photos or 80 recipes and 80 photos. The company also has a small $25 hardcover series and $28 hardcover series, but the paperbacks sell the best, Kiester says.
In addition to higher title output, Page Street’s growth has been driven by more sales per title, plus a backlist that has become a key to the company’s early success. “We spend a lot of money on the books—quality paper and printing—and have had a higher and longer sales expectation based on that strategy,” Kiester says. And though marketing is important, he notes that his philosophy in launching Page Street was to start with “talent, skill, passion, and overall quality editorial.”
Page Street’s barbecue series has done well since its launch, led by Secrets to Smoking on a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and Smoke It like a Pro on the Big Green Egg. The New Mediterranean Table by Sameh Waid—whom Kiester calls a “brilliant recipe creator” and who owns two well-reviewed Minneapolis restaurants—has been a solid seller, helped by a front-page mention in the New York Times food section, Kiester says. Page Street’s paleo cooking list has also sold well, as has its vegan line.
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