Now, as Beck prepares to leave Fox, he’s expanding his footprint in the book publishing world. His multimedia production company, Mercury Radio Arts, has signed an agreement with Simon & Schuster (NYSE: CBS) to launch a new imprint, Mercury Ink, which will publish books that “Glenn is passionate about across a variety of genres.” Beck’s experience driving book sales could potentially make this co-venture very profitable for both Simon & Schuster and himself.
Beck and Simon & Schuster also renewed their co-publishing agreement, and he will continue to write “numerous books” for S&S each year under its conservative imprint, Threshold Editions. His new novel, The Snow Angel, comes out in October.
The division will be run by Kevin Balfe, Mercury’s SVP, Publishing. The first title, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by bestselling author and Mormon father of five Richard Paul Evans, is a young adult novel that will be published in August. In the press release announcing the joint venture, Beck says Mercury Ink “will work with the best authors in a variety of genres to craft books that am I passionate about and that I believe will strongly connect with my audience.”
It is unclear whether all of the imprint’s books will be specifically geared toward Beck’s existing conservative fans or whether the imprint will attempt to target a more general audience; we’ll update the post when we know more. The imprint’s books will not all have a set political message; some will be geared toward a conservative audience and some will target a more general audience.
Now that Oprah has ended her talk show–and, at least for now, her book club–the book publishing industry is lacking a major figure who can drive audiences toward specific titles. Simon & Schuster may have found that in Beck, whom the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) called the “new Oprah” for thrillers in 2009. But with the launch of the new imprint, he will probably be less likely to promote books published by other houses.
While his show’s ratings have fallen over the past year, a recent New York magazine article reported that in 2010 he earned over 90 percent of his income from non-Fox related activities. His radio show, “The Glenn Beck Program,” is syndicated on over 400 stations and has 10 million weekly listeners. The Blaze, which launched last August, pulls in over three million visitors a month.
Despite Beck’s large and devoted audience, he is clearly a much more polarizing figure than Oprah. While many readers will be drawn to books that are associated with him–even if they do not contain overtly political content or a certain message–as many may be turned off for the same reason.