From today's Publisher's Lunch:
Penguin's Knack with Breakout Paperbacks
The AP celebrates "those paperback sensations" that come every year from the likes of Sue Monk Kidd, Khaled Hosseini, Kim Edwards, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. (Their five books in paperback have sold a total of 13 million copies tracked by Bookscan alone.) "They don't appear to have a lot in common except that none has won major awards or sold brilliantly in hardcover or was written by anyone famous. It could be explained as coincidence but for one important connection—the publisher: Penguin Group."
The article says: "Relying on luck, instinct and determination, Penguin has mastered the paperback blockbuster, taking a book already out in hardcover and giving it the kind of promotion once reserved for a new release: prominent store placement, author tours, online marketing, appeals to book clubs and community reading organizations."
Paperback sales head Norman Lidofsky says, "There's no magic, no crystal balls. The books grow organically and then we focus on it and never stop. We've coined a phrase, 'These books should be brought up during every sales call, every account, every time.'" According to the AP, "booksellers say the latest in the Penguin line is Kate Jacobs' THE FRIDAY KNITTING CLUB."