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Book Business January/February 2013 : Page 19

Penguin is perhaps the most recognized brand of the Big 6)—it’s one not meant as a slight against Penguin or Random House, merely an observation of structure. Think of it this way: No one walks into a convenience store looking for a Uni-lever product—they walk in looking for the Unilever-owned brand Ben & Jerry’s. Similarly, a person may not sit down to their browser to search for a Wiley prod-uct, but they do, however, seek out a book from Wiley’s For Dummies series. General interest publishers may publish books for a wide range of niches. Within those niches, the publishers may have sev-eral series of books. The brands promoted by that publisher may be niche-specific— as in the case of sci-fi imprint Tor—or se-ries specific—as with For Dummies. Stephen Koenig—currently the vice president of ecommerce in the Harper-Collins Christian Publishing Division and previously a senior vice president at In-terweave—has seen great success building niche-specific brands for general interest publishers over the years. “I think the key is for publishers to build their brands by creating content of their own around the content niches they serve with their books. This can be done either through disciplined curation, re-use and marketing of their existing book con-tent, or through the creation of additional Brand Awareness: Penguin Classics Lynn Rosen spoke with Elda Rotor, associate publisher and editorial director of Penguin Classics, to find out what makes the brand tick. Do you think that having a rec-ognizable and consistent look to your books helps with sales? like one. This is a brand new series for us but already we’ve received wonderful feedback from book lovers. Do you think readers care about who publishes a book? Elda Rotor: Yes, particularly with our signature black spine editions for Penguin Classics, the uniformity helps consumers, students and book lovers spot our editions more quickly, and with that comes the understanding that the titles are in line with our overall vi-sion for the series, a broad and diverse list of titles, carefully edited, translated and produced. Do you think of this internally in terms of branding? Are there other aspects of how you publish your books that contribute to the brand identity? Rotor: I can only speak for Penguin, and the feedback we've received from readers, that Penguin has been a publisher of choice through their lives, because so many important books that mark milestones or epiphanies or memorable scenes of their reading life have been Penguin books. Much of this begins with their reading the classics as students and then continues on. How do you plan to move forward as you build and grow Penguin Classics in terms of the brand as a whole? Rotor: We think of the brand recognition every single day, and we also think about what Penguin Classics means as a brand to certain readers and audience, and respect that meaning deeply. As we fully engage in all opportunities we can digitally for Penguin Classics, we also feel strongly that our readers deserve high-quality books, both in content, edi-torial selection, apparatus, but also in terms of the physical book, with our choices of paper, our interior design and set-ting, and our overall book package design. One of the most exciting approaches we take is working closely with our art department in terms of book design. Penguin Drop Caps is a new hardcover series in a design collaboration with our art director Paul Buckley and letterer Jessica Hische, whom we commissioned to create illustrated drop caps for each of our covers, pairing the love of typography and design with the love for books. A lot of bells and whistles with this one, foil-stamping on paper over board, a decorative stain on all three paper edges, illustrated spines, just a gorgeous treatment, a complete package with the idea in mind that a treasured book of literature is gift-worthy and should look Rotor: I always think of Penguin Classics as a culture, not just a book series, because it has grown organically in this way primarily because of the life around the books that are read, shared, taught and studied. So there are a number of projects we are working on that keep Penguin Classics moving forward, timeless yet trend-setting. We are launch-ing as an extension of the series a curated selection of lifestyle goods, starting with Civic Classics T-shirts, inspired by our Penguin Civic Classics series edited by Richard Beeman and featuring the striking cover art by Gregg Kulick. We will follow up later in the year with shirts, tote bags, etc., featuring the designs from our award-winning Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions with graphic and comic cover art by notable illustrators. On the digital side, we have just launched John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as a deluxe teacher's edition ebook, featuring specially commis-sioned video clips of students discussing key themes from the work. We plan to build a program of Penguin Classics-hosted events to bring our readers together. And I'm sure there’s more in store. x | FEBRUARY 2013 19

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