In March 2004, Carlo De Vito founded Chamberlain Bros., a new division within the Penguin Group empire that immediately proved itself by grabbing onto the success of reality tv with book titles such as Paris Hilton: The Naked Truth and 10 Secrets I Learned From ‘The Apprentice’. Now, the New York-based publisher plans to take this proven synergy one step further, by turning docs into books and packaging the resulting title with the film’s dvd. ‘We’re looking for good quality films that fall into an area that we can sell in a bookstore,’ says De Vito of the initiative, which will be handled by the Chamberlain Trade imprint. ‘History, current events, politics, science – all of those are areas in a bookstore.’
The first five titles will launch in spring 2005. Once the venture is up and running, about 15 to 20 books with DVDs are planned per year. The first acquisition is already underway – Craig Highberger’s Superstar in a Housedress, a profile of transvestite and Warhol buddy Jackie Curtis. Says De Vito, ‘We contacted Craig and said: you may be looking for traditional dvd distribution, but if you have an idea for a book, then we have a perfect fit.’ Since Highberger was about to shop a manuscript, he made a deal.
‘It’s important that the book is not just a repeat of the DVD,’ adds De Vito. The Curtis book will have about 60% more information than the doc.
Filmmakers will get a royalty on all sales, which De Vito characterizes as competitive with other dvd rights buyers. He’s also after a traditional release slot, one before the tv broadcast. ‘In the end, it’s a matter of whether somebody really has a passion to have a book,’ he says. ‘Penguin has one of the world’s largest book retail sales forces; there’s not many places we’re not going to reach, so we feel we’re competitive as a dvd distributor.’ As well, De Vito says there are plans to work closely with Penguin TV in London. ‘In the future, we’ll be buying TV and dvd rights all in one package with the book,’ he explains. ‘It’s a one stop shop in that respect.’