Article on Contemporary Publishing: The rise of imprints

Publishing, be that books or magazines, is a huge industry. With the rise of conglomerations and global publishing companies, it is easy to get confused, lost or swallowed up within the industry. Global, or even, national publishing houses found a way around this, to section and subdivide their genres, authors or editors. These subdivisions can run individually, with their own identity. These are called imprints.

 ‘imprints allow a publisher to establish a brand identity for a cohesive line of books some of which may be aimed at specific segments of the market’. As publishing companies grow larger and more anonymous, imprints are a way of getting books and authors to the relevant departments and editors within the company. Additionally, big companies are frequently acquiring smaller companies, allowing them to keep infrastructure in place within the smaller company and to retain the ideology of the imprint itself.

For a new editor or publisher, creating an imprint within a larger company means that you have support from higher up within the company, but can still chose the books to publish through individual imprints. Claire Armitstead from The Guardian said that this is ‘a way of giving talented, ambitious publishers a free rein, and reassuring authors that they are not disappearing into the corporate ether’. Imprints can be particularly beneficial for new authors who need more support when first entering the publishing world. Having specific and dedicated imprints is a benefit to those, as it means books and authors get the support and positioning in the market they need to be successful.

As well as this, having specific imprints for different genres can be a benefit to sales and marketing of books as they can help identify books, how they should be positioned in the market and be categorised in bookstores. For example, the Penguin Classics imprint allows the books published within it to have the same packaging, creating a brand identity and be together as a group.

Imprints within companies are growing as there is an increased need for devoted subdivisions to cater for the amount of new book genres. For example, in the last 10 years, lifestyle and well-being books have become more and more popular, and so imprints such as BBC Books and Bluebird have risen.

For example, the publisher, Hachette has launched two new imprints in 2017 to target specific markets within their consumer base. Hilary Murray Hill, CEO of Hachette Children’s says that ‘[o]ur two new imprints will expand our offering and grow sales. These include Pat-a-Cake (baby, preschool and early years imprint) and Wren & Rook (children’s non-fiction for creative and curious readers).


Who’s Who

Grianne Clear

Gráinne Clear is a Publishing Manager and Art Director for Little Island Books, an award-winning and independent publishing company based in Ireland. As art director, she is vital to the company, overseeing every book that goes to print. Clear is also the founder of the Irish children’s radio station ‘Little Pages’ and was named one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars for 2017.

Whilst studying a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Classical Civilisation at Trinity College in Dublin, Clear started her publishing career by interning at Little Island Books one day a week. Gráinne went on to achieve a MPhil in Children’s Literature.

From there, her career has grown remarkably. From her LinkedIn profile, Clear was a board member at Publishing Ireland for two years; a body that serves and represents the publishing industry in Ireland. As well as this, she was a presenter of The Word, a children’s radio programme, alongside Little Pages, another children’s book radio programme. Clear was the founder and presenter of the very first children’s book programme on RTÉ (Ireland’s National Television and Radio Broadcaster).

Little Island Books

In 2013, Clear joined Little Island Books as a full-time Publishing Assistant, but has since worked her way up to become the publishing manager and art director. Clear is involved with editorial, PR, design and marketing. As art director, she plays an important role in the design and management of projects being carried out. Speaking to Alice Geary, Clear describes that ‘[t]here’s a lot of creative thinking involved in making books happen, and I think I’m good at that’.

During her time at Little Island, Clear has been involved in publications of books which have gone on to win many national, and some international awards. These include; The Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year award for Grounded by Sheena Wilkinson and The Children’s Books Ireland Children’s Choice award for Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson.

Aside from her work, Clear is involved with The Bold Girls project. This is a project where influential women writers in Ireland are promoting positive female roles in books. In an interview for The Bookseller, Clear said that ‘Feminism is high on the world’s agenda and the battle for gender equality that started decades ago still hasn’t been resolved. Fairytales can be an excellent way to explore our options as women today, as well as our preconceptions about what society deems acceptable.’

In her spare time, she is a storyteller of Irish tales for adults and children; she does this in libraries, schools and festivals in Ireland, such as the Dublin Book Festival and the Red Line Book Festival.