A Publishing Brand

Today, I received my latest Borders Member email, and included a mention of the book Deeper, part of a series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, released earlier this month. None of that is significant, on it’s own. However, the first line of the ad for the book is, “From the publisher of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books come another series about a boy and the depths of evil.”

picture-3The idea that the book is being marketed to the Harry Potter audience is what caught my eye. Is Scholastic (probably one of the publishing companies best known to consumers as a brand, and therefore well positioned to try this) trying to brand their company? Traditionally, publishing companies have tried to brand books by author. The opening line of this ad  doesn’t NAME the publisher in question. So it is assuming that consumers either know who published Harry Potter, or that they don’t care but will buy from that publisher BECAUSE of what they’ve previously published.

Now here is where things get confusing. Harry Potter, in the US was published by Arthur A. Levine Books, a Scholastic Imprint; and if you go on Amazon, it lists Arthur A. Levine Books under “publisher.” However, if you go to the imprint’s website, there is no mention of the Tunnels series, or of the newest book. The Gordon & Williams book will be published by Scholastic (it IS on Scholastic’s website), which Arthur A. Levine Books is an imprint under, but now, if we are actually trying to create a publishing brand off of the Potter books, we have created a seires of hoops consumers must jump through if they want to find other books from “the publisher of Harry Potter.”

To further complicate the matter, according to Amazon Deeper will be published by The Chicken House, a UK based publisher, and makes no mention of Scholastic. So consumers are further confused if they try to find books “by the publisher of Harry Potter” if they attempt to pursue things by looking up Deeper.

Over all, I applaud the effort to market in a ‘new’ way – but think it was VERY poorly executed.

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2 Comments on “A Publishing Brand”


  1. Hi There. Interesting post. However, your thinking is a bit muddled. It sounds as if the ad you saw was from Borders, not Scholastic. So the bookseller is trying to make the connection between the audience for Tunnels and the audience for Harry Potter. It’s an attempt to compare the readership, not “brand” the publisher. I think the hope (by Borders) is that those readers who’ve enjoyed the type of story exemplified by HP, will also enjoy this other fantasy. (Incidentally one actual connection that you might not be aware of is that Chicken House is an Imprint of Scholastic, although it’s editorially independent (just like Arthur A. Levine Books.) Furthermore the founder of Chicken House is Barry Cunningham, who was the editor best known for paying 3,500 pounds to publish J.K. Rowling’s first book, back when he was an editor at Bloomsbury.

    At any rate, this wasn’t an exercise in publishing branding, but more a version of “If you liked X, you may well like Y.”

  2. mbreau Says:

    Well, it is an attempt to compare the readership – but as you’ll notice in the piece it is the same publisher. And generally, those types of ‘ads’ that are included in newsletters from sellers of anything are bought and paid for by the publisher/manufacturer. So my GUESS is that the ad came FROM scholastic. And, I did know and mention the connection between chicken house, scholastic and arthur a levine books in the piece.


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