Digital publisher Canelo has revealed it is moving into print publishing for the first time as part of the company's continued expansion. Co-founder Michael Bhaskar said he believed the early signs suggest the gambit will provide a "phenomenal boost" for the business, with the potential to double its size within the next 18 months.
Explaining the rationale behind Canelo's "major push" into print, the London-based commercial fiction publisher said it had experienced "huge recent retail demand, with print numbers set to rise steeply over the next year".
Bhaskar told The Bookseller: "We’ve always known there would be a latent demand for our books in print, but were also aware that first and foremost we are a digitally-led publisher, and didn't want to rush in. However we did a small experiment to test what sort of interest there might be and were impressed by the uptake to say the least. We’ve seen eye-opening orders already and this is only the beginning."
He added: "The early signs suggest this will be a phenomenal boost. We think this could potentially double the size of the business over the next 18 months."
Although Canelo's new print programme will initially focus on a limited number of titles (each commanding four-to-five figure print runs to begin with), the hope is to broaden its offering and grow the list "in the coming years" to over 100 books in print annually.
Canelo will work on a "firm demand" basis at the outset, it confirmed, working closely with around 12 retailers whose input will help it to select titles for the programme. Leading the launch in-house will be Bhaskar's co-founders, Iain Millar and Nick Barreto, with Canelo currently building its distribution networks and taking titles out to the wider trade from next year.
News of the "significant print programme" follows on a wave of new promotions at the company in recognition of strong performances in 2017 and 2018 it says will help it to continue "a storming run of growth through to 2019". Francesca Riccardi has been made sales and marketing director, Laurel Sills is promoted to senior commissioning editor, and Ellie Pilcher is promoted to campaigns officer, all with immediate effect.
Riccardi, credited for overseeing a major push across retailers and currently driving Canelo’s audio strategy, has taken over responsibility for the sales and marketing department as a whole, while Sills, who has been involved with pushing Canelo’s reissue publishing, is now also commissioning new books with a focus on Historical Fiction and Fantasy. Pilcher is meanwhile recognised for her campaigns for bestseller which have involved working closely with reviewers and bloggers and growing the company’s social media and advertising presence.
Millar, Canelo’s managing director, said: "Publishers are only as good as their authors and their staff. In both respects we are incredibly lucky at Canelo. Since starting in 2015 we’ve grown to be a team of 14, with a flourishing ebook and now print publishing programme. This is testament to a phenomenally hard-working and talented team, not least Francesca, Laurel and Ellie, whose contribution has been immense. We couldn’t be more excited for them and for the future of the business."