Kania taps into the Web-savvy zeitgeist for It Books

With Carrie Kania at the helm, It Books could be the next big thing in publishing.

After giving Harper Perennial a more updated image by publishing the kind of literary fiction and nonfiction that first attracted her to the business 16 years ago, Kania was tapped to run the new HarperCollins imprint earlier this year. Her mission: to build a youthful, hip — and relevant — brand. It Books’ fall list is full of titles that tap into the zeitgeist, ranging from “Twitter Wit,” a compilation of Twitter posts, to “The Style Strategy” author and “Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia.

“We want to publish books on things that everyone is talking about,” Kania explains.

For the self-described “pop-culture junkie” with a “notorious shoe addiction” and a fascination with fashion (“I’m a big Vivienne Westwood fan. I tear up when I go to her store.”), the job is a perfect fit.

“As a kid I was hugely affected by the style of things,” says Kania, 38, who cites a host of cultural icons including Andy Warhol and David Bowie (whose music she still listens to) as early influencers.

“Being given the opportunity to start this imprint is like being picked to direct the Christmas play,” she says.

Kania’s passion for the visual arts is equaled by her unabashed love of writers. It was Jay McInerney and Donna Tartt who she says ignited her love of books and compelled her to buy a one-way ticket to New York and leave the Midwest to pursue publishing. “What I loved about them beyond their books was that they were becoming celebrities.”

Now it’s Kania’s job, in addition to continuing to overseeing four other HarperCollins imprints, to pick the starmaking — and frequently star-driven — It vehicles that can capture the public’s increasingly short attention span.

“The challenge is trying to identify the ones that aren’t going to last for a minute and to get a public to come to it,” says Kania, who is planning on publishing 25 hardcover and paperback books a year.”

IN A NUTSHELL

Job title: Senior VP/publisher, It Books & Harper Perennial

Mentor: Michael Morrison

Career mantra: “Do what you love.”

Leisure pursuit: “Shopping — not the act of buying.”

Philanthropic passsions: Literacy Partners and PEN. “At the end of the day, books are essential.”

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