(or: do imprints matter?)
(or 2: why are there no imprints for men?)
About 10 years ago, a little known movie studio broke onto the scene when they released a funny movie about a bunch of talking toys and the mischief and wacky adventures they got into. The movie grossed hundreds of millions of dollars, got fantastic reviews, and proved that both children and adults could enjoy an animated feature. I loved "Toy Story," loved "Toy Story 2," and adored just about every movie that Pixar has ever made. When I hear a new Pixar movie is coming out, I make it my duty to see it. The films are hilarious and poignant, more so than 99% of the live-action drek produced these days, and Pixar has my $10.75 for all enternity until Robert Iger goes insane and kills John Lasseter.
On the publishing front, a few days ago the New York Times reported that Hyperion was creating a new book imprint called Voice, aimed at women. Voice won't publish Chick Lit, but books aimed at real women, mothers, careerists. Imprints in publishing are hardly a new hat, but over the last 18 months a huge number of new imprints have sprung up. From Voice to Warner Twelve to Five Spot to Spiegel and Grau, each one with different mission statements and loads of editorial and authorial talent behind them. Most of them debut in 2007, so their success has yet to be determined.
Certain imprints resonate with readers, so much so that readers buy books based largely on imprint reputation. Harlequin Romance. Penguin Classics. Nan A. Talese. St. Martin's Minotaur. These are just a few.
Now with the exception of Pixar, I don't think there are any movie studios whose films I'd pay to see just based on the title card. It always amused me when I saw movie trailers that proclaimed, "From the Producers of..." as though I would buy a ticket just because the same rich people were writing the checks. I never felt that any one studio, with Pixar being the exception, made universally wonderful movies that convinced me to buy a ticket based solely on their reputation.
So I wonder, with all these new imprints out there, and all the ones currently in existence, do readers buy books based on imprint? Do you walk into a store and, without knowing much about the book, gravitate towards it because the imprint has a history of published books you loved?
I honestly don't think I have, but part of that might be because despite a large number of imprints aimed at women, there are absolutely none geared specifically towards men. I find this very curious, and if I thought about it for a while I might even be offended or upset. In fact, I have thought about it, and it does upset me.
Publishing is a very female-dominated industry, that's no secret, and many of the women in publishing are absolutely brilliant. But in a perfect world, the reading public would be closer to 50/50. Clearly it is not. But is that because men simply don't read, or they don't read because there isn't much out there for them? If 75% of television programming consisted of Lifetime Originals, The View, Oprah, and Sex in the City reruns, men wouldn't watch much television either. The other day a colleague told me so many imprints are aimed at women because women make up the majority of book buyers.
"True," I thought. "But it's not disproportionate to the degree that imprints aimed at women should outnumber imprints aimed at men by a score of 25-0. And maybe part of the reason women tend to buy more books is because their needs are being met to a far greater degree than men."
But I digress. End of inner monologue.
So I pose this question to the bookbuying and reading blogosphere: Do you buy books based on imprint? Have any imprints or publishers such made a significant impact--either positive or negative--that have influenced your buying or reading?