NEW YORK — Discovery Communications, the constantly growing empire spawned by the cable channel, will establish a Discovery Channel Books imprint with Random House. That’s the book publishing arm of Si Newhouse’s Advance/Newhouse Communications recently sold to Bertelsmann.
Ann-Marie McGowan, VP of publishing for Discovery, told Daily Variety that talks about establishing the imprint were in the works prior to Newhouse selling its 24.6% share, but that there were “plenty of hiccups and a lot of distraction” before the Discovery deal could be concluded.
Discovery sought the arrangement to take advantage of Random House and Bertelsmann’s expertise in national and international sales through traditional bookselling channels.
Discovery’s relationship with Random House is for adult nonfiction only; McGowan said separate deals for travel and children’s books will be announced shortly.
Discovery will create the content for the Random House imprint books, which will be a mixture of tie-ins to programs and stand-alone books that will also be sold through Discovery and Nature Co. stores and on Discovery’s Web site.
The first title to be released will be “Cleopatra’s Palace,” a tie-in to a Discovery Channel special that will air in March.
Plans call for eight to 12 books next year. Walter Weintz, prexy of the Random House Information Group, will hire an imprint manager to handle the liaison with Discovery.
Discovery Channel, which has done licensed books in the past, was prompted to a fuller publishing commitment by the success of such books as “Titanic: Legacy of the World’s Greatest Ocean Liner,” co-published with Time-Life.
“We’re hoping publishing can be a terrific business for us,” said McGowan.