Company spotlight: Blink

Company spotlight: Blink

It has been less than a year since Bonnier Publishing announced that it was branching out into the world of adult non-fiction, with the launch of Blink Publishing in February. The imprint has grown rapidly, through a clear strategy of publishing highly commercial, digitally enhanced official or endorsed titles as quickly as possible.

“I don’t see us as a traditional publisher, I see us as a hybrid magazine and book publisher,” explains Perminder Mann, who is m.d. of Blink, along with other Bonnier imprints Autumn Publishing, Templar and Weldon Owen.

“There is so much varied content coming from different platforms and media that people want to consume in varied ways, and at Blink we see ourselves as curators of that content.  

“If you try and publish some projects through the existing structure it is going to be difficult. We want to do something different: deliver projects quicker. Speed to market is critical. It is an exhilarating pace we are working at, and [Bonnier c.e.o.] Richard [Johnson] and myself are very hands-on. It’s not a traditional timeline and Blink staff need to think very fast on their feet.”

Digital diversity

Blink’s lead titles included 100 Things That Caught My Eye by wildlife presenter Chris Packham; The Pointless Book from YouTube vlogging sensation Alfie Deyes and #2Sides: Rio Ferdinand, the autobiography of the ex-Manchester United footballer, which is out next week. Upcoming projects include Daring to Dream, the autobiography of “X Factor” winner Sam Bailey, and A Bad Girl’s Guide to a Good Life, the “revealing” autobiography of Luisa Zissman, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Big Brother”.

Blink creates augmented reality apps, which are designed to be used with its books, alongside creative social media campaigns. Mann says: “It’s been quite an eventful few months, but right from the beginning Bonnier and I knew we wanted to do something a little bit outside of the box, and my relationships with Rio Ferdinand and his agent were a real part of that.

“So when we decided to set up, we knew we wanted to cherry-pick staff that would work well in a specialsed unit. We wanted staff who could think fast, be highly commercial and be able to drive high-profile books forward. We want to attract good people from the industry who are interested in a new speed to market. We have real ambition for digital diversity: the aim for everything we do is to have an integrated digital plan and bring the reader closer to the subject. It’s exciting to be ahead of the curve.”

Blink will publish nine titles in its first year, and it has recently appointed ex-Hachette staffer (and a 2014 Bookseller Rising Star) Nick Coveney as its new head of digital. Future growth for the imprint will come from a new “real life stories” division, and Mann says that because Bonnier is a decentralised parent company, it is “open to taking risks. You have to be allowed to foster that culture of innovation; I am an entrepreneur and Blink and Bonnier are both growing as aggressively as possible. In order to do that you have to be able to take risks.”

She adds: “When it comes to growing, we are very fluid. Our brand and our authors’ brands go hand in hand. Up until now I would say that our authors’ brands have been helping the profile of Blink, but now we are more established and growing, I want it to start to go the other way as well.”

Digital Deyes

With 8,000 fans turning up for his book signing at Waterstones Piccadilly, Alfie Deyes is one of Blink’s hottest properties. A YouTube vlogger with a massive fanbase, his The Pointless Book “went straight in at number one with pre-orders as soon as we announced the book on YouTube”, says Mann.

“For this book we knew digital had to be at the centre, as all of Alfie’s own content is consumed digitally. We know young people are consuming media in different ways, so we had to think carefully about what part the book would play in that, because that audience doesn’t always translate for a straight book project.

“We needed to make sure that the book connected fans with Alfie further, so there is a free app, meaning readers can interact with Alfie via social media channels as they make their way through the book.”