While sifting through the Amazon best-seller lists recently I came across an intriguing new book called Brain Rules. The publisher, Pear Press, wasn't one I recognized so I decided to dig a bit deeper. Here's the statement at the top of their About page:
Pear Press is a small publisher that publishes big books. We plan to publish no more than one book every year or two because it takes time to deliver quality content.
OK, now I'm really fascinated. I contacted Mark Pearson, publisher and president of Pear Press, and asked if he'd be willing to do a blog interview. He agreed and here's what he had to say:
JW: Your website promise of fewer books, but with an emphasis on quality undoubtedly gets a lot of attention. What exactly are you doing differently with your small list that a larger publisher may not be doing?
MP: There are around 300,000 titles published every year now. You have to do something to cut through all the noise. For our most recent title, Brain Rules, we produced a 45-minute film on DVD, included with every book, and designed interactive web tutorials to reinforce the concepts in the book. The larger publishers are spread so thin that they don't have time to really focus on their top titles.
JW: How can a publisher exist by only doing one book every year or two?
MP: My approach is to publish big books rather than dozens of niche titles. You obviously need to find the right book for the model to work.
JW: The About page goes on to say that Pear Press strives "to combine the best of old-world publishing and new-world media." Can you elaborate?
MP Books are still vital in our culture even though we have gone from a reading world to a viewing world. Instead of sitting down to read the newspaper for a half hour, people are lucky to find a few minutes just to scan the newspaper headlines online. Instead of reading a book at night, you have hundreds of channels and millions of YouTube videos to choose from. Despite all the advances in technology, you can't replace the experience of reading a 300-page book. I want to use new media, such as YouTube, iTunes, and Facebook, to get readers curious enough to invest 7 hours to read or listen to the book. This is why I uploaded dozens of videos about the book on YouTube.
JW: Your most recent publication (Brain Rules) came out last month and has been doing exceptionally well on Amazon. What's the unique hook with this book and have sales met your expectations so far?
MP: The brain is a hot topic right now. The timing is perfect for a breakthrough book on the brain. John Medina's writing style also makes it fun to learn about memory, exercise, sleep, and stress, which are just a few of the 12 brain rules. The feedback from readers so far is very encouraging.
JW: Given the limited number of publications you expect to produce over the next few years, what do you look for in an author and what makes their project a good fit for Pear Press?
MP: First, I look for an author that has ideas worth sharing with the world. Second, the book has to have a good shot at hitting the bestseller lists. Third, I want books that have legs. In other words, the title should be around for a long time.