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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Vegan Publishing Finds Big Market

Estimates are that only one million Americans follow a vegan diet. That's a small market by most standards and the reason why only a few cities have more than a bare handful of vegan restaurants. Yet vegan cookbooks are flourishing way out of proportion to that size. Many one reason is that the many millions who try to keep milk of their diets can also find recipes they want in vegan cookbooks. I know that's the reason why I mention so many of them in this blog.

Lynn Andriani of the trade magazine Publishers Weekly featured one small publisher that's made a good business out of vegan cookbooks.

When the Perseus Books Group acquired the Avalon Publishing Group in 2007, one of the things that came with it was a little imprint called Marlowe & Company. Marlowe had had success with diet books as well as vegan cookbooks like Sinfully Vegan, Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Sales figures for the books went as high as 90,000 copies for one of them—pretty impressive for a cuisine that doesn’t include any animal products (that means no meat and no dairy) and is followed by about .5% of American eaters. Marlowe has since been folded into Da Capo Press’s wellness imprint, Lifelong Books. And now, two years after the merger, Lifelong has seen tremendous growth in its vegan list. It has eight vegan titles coming out this spring and fall, and three more under contract. As a result, Da Capo has emerged as one of the country’s premier publishers of vegan cookbooks.

The editorial brains behind Da Capo’s vegan operation are executive editor Katie McHugh and senior editor Renee Sedliar, formerly of Marlowe. Together, they’ve lengthened and strengthened the house’s vegan list. McHugh says that when she was at Marlowe, she focused on nutrition, especially “areas that were underserved,” like veganism. The house started its vegan trajectory in 2002 when it published Fresh and Fast Vegan Pleasures by Amanda Grant. It hit the target readership, and the house was on its way. Its bestseller so far is Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero; the hardcover pubbed in 2007 and to date has sold around 90,000 copies. A paperback comes out in October. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Moskowitz, Romero and Sara Quin (2006) isn’t far behind, with around 70,000 copies sold.


Most of these books are also available through my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Books and Cookbooks page.

With this kind of success you can be sure to see many more vegan cookbooks, including some by these authors, over the coming years.

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