John Murray is launching a new list, Heritage, aiming to resurrect forgotten classics in both paperback and e-book formats.
The first four titles from the Heritage Collection will be published on 16th August in paperback and e-book, priced £9.99 and £5.99 respectively, to be followed by further titles in November and December.
John Murray managing director Roland Philipps has acquired the rights in the titles on the list through the Society of Authors, but he said he would also look further afield for other neglected classics.
Philipps said: "These current ones are all Society of Authors books, but we are also talking to other agents that have good backlists too. Critically we want to do the right authors rather than the right books, or rather than being tied to one agency."
The first titles set for release are An Unsocial Socialist and Love Among Artists by George Bernard Shaw, The Crock of Gold by James Stephens, and The Return by Walter de la Mare.
Philipps said: "This came about because when I was looking at sales of backlist e-books last year. There was no question that with backlist authors, the e-books and paperback sales combined were selling many more than the backlist paperback would have done alone. I think that's possibly to do with the ease of digital books, and the fact that people can follow a whole series through the backlist easily.
"It gave me the idea that we should publish as e-books and print books separately‚Äîwe should bring the books properly back into print, not just through print-on-demand (p.o.d.), but re-proofread them and properly reset, so they are to all intents and purposes new books."
Future books to come include L P Hartley's The Brickfield and Carnival and The Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett by Compton MacKenzie. He said the books will all be published on the John Murray list, but if they were to buy some backlist crime and thrillers, they would go onto the Hodder list.
Philipps added: "The physical books will be of higher quality than p.o.d., and that will enable them to be distributed in the export market. They are aimed at the general fiction market; they are all classics. I hope that they might get reviews, and certainly publicity and features‚ particularly with George Bernard Shaw with the political angle. I think that the key thing is that the books are published in an upmarket way."
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