Monday, October 19, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: Publishers & Branding

Today's Topic

This week Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher announced a new division for self publishing. They named this new endeavor, Westbow Press. This was a bit of a shock for those of us who remember books on the shelves by some of Christian fiction's most accomplished writers published under the Westbow imprint of the past.

When asked about this, Michael Hyatt responded that readers don't pay attention to imprints and publishers. To be honest, I found this rather insulting and it also made me question why publishers would try to brand themselves if readers don't really care anyway. Even before book blogging and reading book news every day, I paid attention to publishers. I figured if a publisher published enough different sorts of books that I liked, than I would like a lot of their stuff.

This really holds true today. I have favorite publishers in Christian fiction and in the general market. There are publishers I know I will read new authors from and other I'm less likely to pick up.

How about you? Do you know who the Christian publishers are? Who are your favorite publishers or imprints? Do you have certain perceptions of the kinds of books each publishing house brings out? Tell it like it is...even if you have no idea what I'm talking about!

My Answer

Sorry this posted before I got my answer here. I took my meds from my shoulder surgery and ended up falling asleep before I could stop it from posting! So the following is my response...

I absolutely know who the Christian publishers are! If I'm at a used bookstore or at the library, all I have to do is look at the spine and will know by the logo which one is Christian and which one isn't. On top of that, there are so many new Christian authors out there, if I didn't know which publishing house they were with, I'd probably pass right by them.
I have a level of trust with Christian publishers and know the type of material they are publishing. The following are the publishers I'm totally familiar with and would recognize them just from their imprints, which I'm calling "logo":
NavPress: sail of a boat
Bethany House: what looks like leaves next to each other
B&H: exactly as that looks with the '&' squished between the letters
Tyndale: feather writing an oval
Multnomah (part of Random): mountain
Zondervan: funky cut up 'Z'
New Leaf: bird w/ a leaf
Heartsong: fancy heart
Faith Words (part of Zondervan): an open book
Thomas Nelson: a building
Tommy Nelson for kids: colorful kids font
Harvest House: 'H' with a wheat stalk
Barbour: side view of a book flipping open
Revel (part of Baker): wide front part of the 'R'
Summerside: lighthouse
Whitaker House: a medieval type 'W'
W Pub. Group (part of Thomas Nelson): fancy 'W' in a circle
David C Cook: 'C' in a yellow circle
Abingdon Press: fancy 'A' & 'P' blended together
Living Ink: name w/ a calligraphy pen
Steeple Hill: an old style church
Westbow: a man stretched out on a hill holding a bow in the air
Kregel: 'K' in a box
WaterBrook (part of Random): a deer
Howard: star
Now, I have a hard time putting authors with their publishing house most of the time. I just don't correlate the two. I know Zondervan has a great Youth and Young Adult Division (along with their adult fiction). Bethany House is consistently putting out a wide array of books. NavPress does a lot of studies and non-fiction type books. David C. Cook has some edgier stuff. Abingdon is a newer publisher and are publishing new authors.
So, the bottom line is, I know the imprints for Christian publishers and it's a type of branding. Just like BMW, McDonalds, Nike, and Gatorade, they each have an imprint that makes us think of them immediately.
I'm glad that Thomas Nelson is opening up a division for self publishing, and I don't know that using the WestBow name or imprint is going to make a huge deal to the readers. Those of us who pay attention to such details will begin to associate the WestBow logo with self published authors and may be more inclined to purchase those books.
We shall see in the long run how it all works itself out.


adge said...

When looking at books in a bookstore I usually look specifically for the publisher. It really does give me an idea of the book.

Project Journal said...

I only know Steeple Hill *blush* or that's the only one I "recognize" just by reading what the logos are.

You had shoulder surgery!? I'm sorry. So, that's why you haven't been around I take it...I hope you feel better soon!
I'm keeping you in my prayers!

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

Sweet...I knew most of them! I study my CBD catalogs and then look for the books online. When I go to the bookstore...I know what I'm looking for by title usually, but I do recognize the publisher as well.

I hope you recovery quickly, Mimi! :)
~ Lori

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.