Open Road Bets That Mysteries Will Be Highly Profitable Genre For E-Books

A top book-industry research association recently found that mysteries are one of the two fastest-growing e-book genres, along with general fiction. Now, digital publisher and multimedia company Open Road Integrated Media and mystery bookseller and publisher Otto Penzler are launching a new venture to try to capitalize on that trend.

The venture,, will publish e-versions of both classic and new mysteries. The first titles will be available this summer. Open Road is working with Penzler to produce and digitally market the books. Among other marketing initiatives, Open Road will create book trailers for titles.

Some titles are brand-new titles from authors including Charles McCarry and Nelson DeMille. In other cases, Open Road obtained the e-book rights for titles previously published only in print, like Ellery Queen’s The Roman Hat Mystery, first published in 1929, and James Grady’s Six Days of the Condor, published in 1974. Open Road’s mystery and crime list already includes mystery authors Lawrence Block, Ruth Rendell, and Jonathan King.

Open Road was launched in 2009 by former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman. Last month, the company raised $8 million in Series B financing from Azure Capital, Golden Seeds, and original funder Kohlberg Ventures. The company’s original mission was to publish backlist titles by authors like William Styron, Iris Murdoch, Joseph Heller, and Pat Conroy as e-books, but it has expanded its marketing services and its digital publishing arm. For instance, the company will publish traditional and enhanced e-book versions of the wildly popular Go the F**k to Sleep.

Penzler owns NYC’s Mysterious Bookshop and runs his Mysterious Press imprint, for print books, with Grove/Atlantic. Mysterious Press has not published backlist titles until now, so provides an opportunity for both Penzler and Open Road to build their mystery and crime lists–and to get a stronger foothold in a very fast-growing e-book genre.