Bloomsbury launches high-flying Circus

Bloomsbury is to launch a new literary imprint, Bloomsbury Circus, to accommodate its expanding publishing.

The imprint—which sports an aerialist logo adapted from the publisher’s traditional Diana—will feature fiction and very select non-fiction, with a focus on fine writing. It will include both début writers and established novelists, like Liz Jensen and Patrick McGrath, but not authors from the more traditional end of Bloomsbury’s stable. Alexandra Pringle, Bloomsbury’s editor-in-chief, said its books would be "fresh and sometimes surprising", comparing Bloomsbury Circus to “Picador when it started off”.

The books will be trade paperbacks in an unusual, square-ish format (royal width and demi height), with flaps and high production values, and all priced at £12.99. There will be just one title a month in 2012, growing to four a month thereafter. Bloomsbury currently publishes 30–35 fiction titles a year, which will rise to 50 in 2012 with the new imprint.

Pringle said it was unusual for a publisher of Bloomsbury’s size not to have had additional imprints up to now. "With our new global Bloomsbury, we are publishing a lot of books with our cousins in America, and that has meant we are growing the list," she said.

“With fiction, you can’t successfully publish more than four titles a month because, selling into the fiction buyer, you have to have your lead, second lead, dark horse and a crime title. If you do more, you lose the focus. If we are going to grow, we have to do it in an exciting, imaginative way. This is a way we can grow, and continue to offer the service we do.”

Bloomsbury Circus’ launch titles include The Trapeze Artist by Will Davis, whose début, My Side of the Story, won the Betty Trask Award in 2007. The story, featuring a gay love affair in a circus setting, is "incredibly accomplished" and narrated in the past, present and future tenses, Pringle said. Meanwhile, New Zealand writer Emily Perkins’ The Forrests is "reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves", telling of a woman’s life from birth to death "written in exquisite prose". Pringle said she had “the very highest hopes” for the novel, believing it has the potential to win a major prize.
Coming later on the list are novels from Liz Jensen and Jane Rusbridge, plus US début Wilderness by Lance Weller. All but one of the launch titles are being published with the US, and five of the first nine titles are US-originated.

Pringle said the imprint was intended to be very much one for the high street. "We hope Waterstones will love it, and it’s perfect for independents. It’s very much about the sort of books booksellers will read and recommend at Daunt’s, Foyles and Hatchards," she said.