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Turner And Citadel Press Cut A Cuddly Deal With ‘Kisses’

“Kisses,” a St. Valentine’s Day gift book featuring famous movie kisses, marks the first co-publishing arrangement between Citadel Press and Turner Publishing. It also provides a textbook example of cross-promotion: The book includes 150 duotone photos from Turner’s MGM archive and has generated a tv special to be cablecast on TNT.

Execs at Citadel and Turner are delighted with the response, as a first printing of 25,000 was increased to 75,000 to meet demand. The companies will split the profits.

The joint venture began when Steven Schragis, publisher of the Carol Publishing Group, which includes Citadel, wrote a “fan letter” to Ted Turner. Schragis proposed working together on projects after Turner announced the formation of a new publishing division. Soon Michael Reagan, v.p. and publisher of Turner Publishing, was discussing ideas with Schragis.

Citadel offered experience with film books and a sales force with contacts at bookstores. Turner had the MGM archive, the power of tv and a huge publicity department. According to both parties, work on “Kisses” has been remarkably trouble-free.

Couldn’t have done it alone

Schragis said the print run of 75,000 is “triple what we would have done if we did the book by ourselves.” And TNT’s special, also called “Kisses” and premiering Feb. 11, will give sales an additional boost. “By mid-February everyone will know about ‘Kisses’ and that’s because of Turner,” Schragis said. “They have the airwaves.”

Ted Turner had been thinking about starting a publishing division for years. The media mogul offered to publish the winners of the Turner Tomorrow Awards – which also give $500,000 to the winner – and that provided the final impetus to start the division. “It made a lot of sense. From the publishing point of view, it’s like a candy store,” Reagan said.

But since “Kisses” was one of Turner Publishing’s first books, Reagan welcomed an experienced partner. Carol Publishing has a staff of 140 and accounts at virtually every store that stocks film books. Reagan’s staff consists of just five fulltime employees in Atlanta and four in New York. In addition, he works with consultants such as Ian Ballantine and Lena Tabori, a book packager and the editor of “Kisses.”

Tabori and Reagan came up with the idea for the book when they visited the MGM archive in Los Angeles last spring. Tabori realized it would be perfect for St. Valentine’s Day. “Initially, I thought it was too mushy,” Reagan said. “It didn’t take long to convince me.”

While the film library inspired the book, TNT is helping to sell it. “Whereas a lot of big corporations talk about synergy, at Turner synergy exists routinely,” Reagan said. “All the books we do will have some connection to the library or programming. Cross-promotion will always be there.”

Thanks to the tv show, hosted by Lauren Bacall, Life magazine ran an excerpt and TV Guide is planning a story. Tabori is scheduled to appear on “Prime Time Live,” “Joan Rivers,” “CBS This Morning” and other programs. And Macy’s is using the book as its Valentine’s Day theme. As Tabori noted, their displays “will promote the special, as well as sell the book.”

Books will derive from shows

While the book inspired the tv special in this instance, most of Turner’s books will derive from TBS and TNT programming. Travel books include “Portrait Of Great Britain” and “Portrait Of Cuba,” companions to the “Portrait Of The World” series, and “Explorer,” a pop-up book based on the show of the same name. Another project is a look at China by Mike Chinoy, CNN’s bureau chief there.

Turner Publishing also plans to exploit the MGM archive in future books. Next fall the company will publish “MGM: Kingdom Of Dreams,” which will become a six-hour special in the spring. Timed for next year’s Valentine’s Day is “Screen Couples,” with more Hollywood stills.

Reagan expects to publish most future titles without a co-publisher, using Andrews & McMeel (publisher of “Garfield” and “Doonesbury” books) as distributor. By 1993 he hopes to produce about 15 new books per year.

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