Reading Year in Review - Part 6: Publishers and Imprints

>> Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I don't usually pay much attention to a book's publisher. I actually never even looked at that before I decided to start tracking that bit of information in my spreadsheet, so I can honestly say it's not something that's influenced my purchases.

Ever since I started filling in that little column, I've been slightly more aware of imprints and publishers, albeit in a very vague way. I know Dorchester books often have very original storylines (even if the editing is sometimes lacking) and awful covers, and I recognize Avon clinches on sight, but that's about it

So basically, I've absolutely no expectations of what the results of this analysis may be. Will it turn out I've tended to like books from Publisher A or Imprint B significantly better than others? Or that I've had absolutely no luck with Publisher X or Imprint Y? I have no idea.

First, some numbers. Books read in 2005 from:

  • Penguin-Putnam: 80:

    Jove was the main imprint there, with 32 books, basically because that's where my two biggest comfort authors (i.e. the ones I reread compulsively) are published in PB (11 books each by Jayne Ann Krentz and Nora Roberts).

    It was followed by Berkley, with 16 (includes rereads of 4 Barbara Michaels from the 70s).

    Then came Signet, with 12 (mostly Trad Regencies -half of those 12 were old Mary Balogh Trads).

    Fourth in place was Putnam, with a total of 6: the hardcovers of 3 Nora Roberts, 2 J.D. Robb and 1 Jayne Ann Krentz.

  • Harlequin: 66: I kind of talked about this one already in the post about genres and subgenres.

    Harlequin Blaze was the line I read most of, with 12. That was pretty diversified, with multiple reads only by Vicki Lweis Thompson and Jo Leigh.

    Mira came next with 11, including some which were old category reprints and some which were not. There were 3 books each by Elizabeth Lowell and Anne Stuart here.

    In third place: Silhouette Intimate Moments, with 8. Five of them were old Nora Roberts categories, though.

    Harlequin Intrigue, Harlequin Presents and plain Silhouette titles came next, with 6 each. The latter were 4 Nora Roberts, 1 Jayne Ann Krentz and 1 Linda Howard... all big name authors. The other two were more diversified, though I did have a few Susan Napiers there in the Presents line.

  • Random House: 34:

    Bantam Books was the top imprint there, with 10, including multiple reads from favourites such as Nora Roberts (yes, I did reread a lot of her books last year!), Madeline Hunter and Amanda Quick.

    Second was Dell, with 9, seven of which were Mary Balogh titles.

    Ballantine had 6 reads, including two each by Suzanne Brockmann and Linda Howard.

  • HarperCollins: 28:

    That was basically all Avon: 20 books. Whatever it's said of this imprint, some of my favourite authors write there, like Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Elizabeth Lowell and Judith Ivory

  • Simon & Schuster: 24:

    22 of those were Pocket Books, and 10 of those were by Jayne Ann Krentz (yes, I also reread her a lot last year). Another of my very favourite authors, Liz Carlyle, writes there, and 3 of the 22 were hers.

  • Kensington: 12:

    Zebra had half of those, including a few debut authors, like Caroline Linden and Katy Love.

    There were also 3 Kensington books, all by Shannon McKenna.

  • Dorchester: 9:

    I read only two imprints there (not that I know if there publish more). Lovespell had 6, all futuristic, alternate-reality or fantasy romances which showed a lot of originality. The 3 from Leisure were more Earth-bound, but just as different.

  • Macmillan: 9:

    Most (7) were from St. Martin's (mostly Jennifer Crusie), and the other 2 were from Tor (old Elizabeth Peters books).

  • Warner: 6:

    That was 3 Warner Books and 2 Popular Library romance novels (all 5 old Jayne Ann Krentz books from the 80s) and 1 old Elizabeth Peters. Nothing after 1989 from them. Are they still publishing romance? Looking at their website, apparently so, but not anything I've been reading!

  • Others: 29: Others is a big category! I have both ebooks and tiny, independent publishers there.

    Ellora's Cave was the first one there, with 8 reads, seven of which were by Lisa Marie Rice (yes, there are only 6 available, but I actually reread Midnight Angel later in the year!). All ebooks.

    In second place came Bloomsbury, with 5... the Harry Potter books, reread in preparation for the Half-Blood Prince.

    Loose-Id was third, with 4, all ebooks. Three were by Stephanie Vaughan.
Phew, that was long! Next, a (hopefully) quick look at my average grades for different publishers and imprints. For that, I converted my letter grades into numbers from 1 to 12 and did the averages there. When relevant, I also calculated the averages for older books (2000 and before) and newer ones (the last 5 years... from 2001 on).

Warner had the best grade, with 9.17 (a bit over a B+). Well, duh, most of them were rereads from one of my favourites. Plus, considering all those great books were published at least 15 years ago, that doesn't really tell me I should still be buying Warner books.

Others got 9.04, just over B+. Surprising at first, but then I remembered the Harry Potters are there, pushing the averages up. Still, Ellora's Cave got an average grade of 8.25 (bit over B) and Loose-id got a 7 (a B-). The rest had only a book each, so averages wouldn't tell me much.

Simon & Schuster did pretty well: 8.58 (about half-way between a B and a B+). Plus, the average hasn't really changed between old and new books.

Macmillan had 8.56, only slightly less than S&S and still nearer B+ than B. And the newer books had a really high average: 9.50 (halfway betwen B+ and A-. I obviously adore Jennifer Crusie!

I won't go into all the others. I'll just mention Harlequin got the worst average of all, with 6.68 (between a C+ and a B-). Though I did rate the newer books better than the older ones! The line I seem to dislike the most is Silhouette Intimate Moments. Even the Nora Roberts were meh, and two others were downright bad (Judith Duncan and Karen Templeton). I only really, really liked the Caridad Piñeiro

Only one more part left!


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