View Full Version : Washington Post article by editor-in-chief of new Hachette BG imprint

06-29-2008, 10:05 PM
My parents handed me this article. It's written by Jonathan Karp, editor-in-chief for Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group. He's basically discussing why Twelve's business model is the shiznit.

Nathan Bransford blogged about Twelve just last week:


Essentially, Karp's imprint is built around a simple concept: they publish one book a month and try and make them all bestsellers.

Karp also discusses why this will change what gets published and what doesn't:

Many categories of books will be subsumed by digital media. Reference publishing has already migrated online. Practical nonfiction will be next, winding up on Web sites that can easily update and disseminate visual and textual information. Readers of old-fashioned genre fiction will die off, and the next generation will have so many different entertainment options that it's hard to envision the same level of loyalty to brand-name formula fiction coming off the conveyor belt every year. The novelists who are truly novel will thrive; the rest will struggle.

I don't know enough about the hard-core business side of publishing to make any judgments, but I thought this was an interesting read. My personal, rather uneducated opinion, is that the bestsellers will be in print and the rest of us will be writing e-books. I'd love to hear some other people's opinions about Twelve and how this business model will affect authors.


06-30-2008, 06:29 AM
I've worked with Jon Karp and he's a brilliant, brilliant guy. He's also someone who's always looking for the Next Big Thing--he's a risk-taker. That said, only time will tell whether this approach is successful or not.

06-30-2008, 06:34 AM
Hmmm....very interesting indeed. That's veeeeeeeeeeeery interesting. Although it's been obvious that a lot of resource and non-fiction has transferred to the web, I'd never quite put the trend together quite as well as Mr. karp has...

And wow. That's a hell of an investment to put into twelve authors a year. Dang.

06-30-2008, 06:07 PM
Unfortunately, I'm not able to connect to the Washington Post Article. But - based on the short paragraph quoted here - it sounded very interesting, particularly the sentences about reference and practical non-fiction. (I think he's right about those.)

The one sentence I would quibble with is 'readers of old-fashioned genre fiction will die out'. I'm not sure if he means 'genre fiction is old-fashioned' and it will all die out or just the subset of genre fiction that is old-fashioned will die out. But I don't think genre fiction as a whole will die out, basically because most people I know tend to read the same type of book. It might be romances or thrillers or whatever, but they gravitate to the same type of book every time.

Personally, I'm more interested in how books will be delivered in the future. I'm a firm believer in ebooks as a strong contender to 'real' books in the future. Not for me personally but I can see that younger people (my sons in college and their friends) are much more open to that form of delivery. (This may have been mentioned in that article but - as I said - I couldn't read it.)

Soccer Mom
06-30-2008, 06:13 PM
I've read the article (and Moonie's take on it as well).

My thoughts: First, it was horribly depressing and pessimistic. Second, it made me pissed. Genre is simply dealt with by a wave of the hand and dismissed. Only :clears throat: serious literature may apply. Then I calmed down. It's a limited approach and frankly a gimmick. Twelve only publishes twelve books a year. My writing isn't the sort to spark "national debate" or win the nobel prize for literature. It isn't destined for this sort of publisher. There will always be publishers who will publish what they feel the public wants. This publisher is going to a very tiny, narrow focus. Others will follow. Then someone will posit the opposite idea, publish a large quantity, see what sticks and get behind it. The gates will open again and barbarians like me will get through with our dirty genres that have been crafted in only a year. Sweet victory will be mine.

06-30-2008, 06:34 PM
I read the article, too. I ground my teeth a little because while he had a point with some of what he was saying, it came across with a rather snooty tone.


The only thing I know for sure that trying to predict what is going to happen next in publishing is going to have everyone (writers, agents, editors, publishing houses) eating a lot of Tums.

06-30-2008, 06:36 PM
Look how much attention Jon got for his new imprint by being so publicly tendentious, though!

I think he's wrong as wrong can be about genre fiction withering away--I see what people are reading on the subway--but by taking an extreme stand like this, he got a lot of publicity.

06-30-2008, 06:38 PM
Yeah, I think you're right about that, ICE. I think anyone predicting the demise of genre fiction is more than a little off their rocker. It's wishful thinking. Pretty offensive wishful thinking, too, for both genre writers AND their readers. Hell, I read genre, and write it, too.


Old Hack
06-30-2008, 08:06 PM
It's seductive, though, isn't it? The idea of spending enough time with an editor to be able to focus on quality, rather than deadlines... mmm.

Bet that's not how it'll pan out. Although I'd be glad to be proved wrong.

06-30-2008, 11:07 PM
Nathan Bransford and Book Ends have both blogged about this article.

Here (http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2008/06/jonathan-karp-on-book-year.html) and here. (http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2008/06/we-interrupt-this-program.html)

ETA: And Jennifer Jackson has blogged about it as well.

here. (http://arcaedia.livejournal.com/167824.html)

And Jonathan Lyons.

Here! (http://lyonsliterary.blogspot.com/2008/06/summer-slowdown.html)

06-30-2008, 11:12 PM
That was one of the things I actually agreed with. I am horrified by the idea of "having" to crank out a book per year. If you can do it, enjoy doing it, prefer doing it, more power to ya.

Not me. I imagine I'll miss out on some lucrative book deals if I ever get published because of that attitude (among other qualities I might be lacking to bring such a deal about, lol), but I'm willing to forgo a big advance if it means I only contract for one book at a time.

Might just be me, though. :D

06-30-2008, 11:18 PM
The novelists who are truly novel will thrive; the rest will struggle.

Reading now....

So this is basically survival of the fittest right?

The people who would do what they can to revive a dead book, or add a little bit of publicity to some newly published material. I'd like to work with these people. :) Just my opinion though. Books these days are really hard to get out there, so maybe this 'Twelve' could help make things easier. I'll do anything to put my book out there even if it mean someone shooting me in the head.

(Please forgive me if I don't seem to know what I'm talking about.)