Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Get to know … Murdoch Books

Think Australian interviewed publishing director Lou Johnson about Murdoch Books’ rebranding and forthcoming titles.

What makes Murdoch Books unique?

A whole combination of things. The fact that we have such a strong heritage and grew from a magazine background rather than traditional book publishing means we have an overarching narrative and category for our brand that enables us to operate in a way that most publishers aren’t able to. We also have such a clear purpose as a lifestyle brand to add value to people’s lives through ‘sharing new conversations and fresh ideas for living life well’ along with a very global sensibility and capability. We are focussed on our consumer audience and we mirror them as an editorial team—we know their pain points and the areas where we can make a positive difference to their lives—and we think about the books we publish for them and the way we market to them as part of an ongoing conversation about all the areas of their life where we can add value. We have an incredibly accomplished team and we all come to work each day absolutely fuelled by our purpose, which means we have a real clarity of vision for every book we publish.  We also really pride ourselves on our open and collaborative author relationships and other partnerships.

What has changed under the publisher’s recent rebrand?

Our rebrand is the visual reflection of all the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes over the last two years. I  like to say we’ve been rebranding from the inside out, by developing our vision and purpose and building our capability to deliver on that before launching our rebrand. For the past two years we have been reshaping our list and successfully diversifying our program by publishing into a broader range of formats and lifestyle categories, which now include at the table; healthy body, healthy mind; conversation starters; and new ways of living. Since launching the rebrand and showcasing our catalogue at London Book Fair, we have had hugely positive feedback that the list is really cohesive and our purpose and personality is now really clear and distinctive.

Are there any particular lifestyle trends that underpin the rebrand and/or Murdoch’s forthcoming list?

Being so closely connected with our audience gives us some unique insights, and we test our knowledge and instincts through trend forecasting analysis and other data. Clear trends we are currently seeing and are actively publishing into are intuitive eating, meal prep, flexitarianism, the next wave of sustainability subjects, topics reflecting our changing social fabric (i.e. the breaking down of traditional taboo subjects like dying and sexuality), the reframing of traditional paradigms (i.e. gender, workplace, relationships) and what we call new spirituality for a new generation searching for meaning in an increasingly secular world.

Which Murdoch Books titles have been most successful in Australia—and internationally?

Our most recent successes have been Fire Islands: Recipes from India (Eleanor Ford), Meat: The Ultimate Compendium, Low Tox Life (Alexx Stuart), Probiotic Drinks at Home (Felicity Evans), Ferment (Holly Davis), Jackfruit and Blue Ginger: Asian Favourites Made Vegan (Sasha Gill), along with our practical cookbooks like Whole Food Thermo Cooked (Tracey Pattison). We have also sold rights in multiple markets for our narrative ‘conversation starter’ books like The Art of Living Alone and Loving It (Jane Matthews) and Can You Die of a Broken Heart? (Nikki Stamp).

What will you publish next (that may appeal to international publishers)?

We currently have a lot of international interest in the following books:

  • Fit Foodie: Easy Meal Prep by Sally O’Neil (October 2019)
  • Vegan Style, one of the first books to come out on how to live a vegan life by Sascha Camilli (July 2019)
  • Venetian Republic, with recipes and stories from the shores of the Adriatic, the Dalmatian Coast and the Greek islands by Nino Zoccali (October 2019)
  • Home is Where You Make it, which features inspirational and practical styling hacks, design tips and DIY projects from influencer Geneva Vanderzeil.

As well as books in our conversation starters category, including A Good Death by Margaret Rice; On Eating Meat by food critic and farmer Matthew Evans, which explores commercial meat production and the dilemma of whether to eat it or not; The M Word, a friendly resource for menopause; an upcoming book from sex and relationships expert Tracey Cox about sexuality as we grow older; and Make it Happen: Manifest the Lie of Your Dreams.

Download the Murdoch Books catalogue here.


Category: Think Australian newsletter Feature