An old-fashioned business model for a new kind of book publisher is what makes Beth Daugherty’s Bauer and Dean Publishers stand out. Publishing its inaugural book titles in December, Bauer and Dean specializes in design books, crafted from high-end quality materials like wood-free paper and cloth binding. The concept for Bauer and Dean came from Daugherty’s nearly 20 years in design book publishing and the need for essential reference books for designers and architects.
Beth Daugherty. Photo courtesy Emily Eerdmanns.
“I've been in book publishing for 18 years and I started at a specialist shop that was dealing with architecture and design,” Daugherty said. “Through that period, you see who buys books, who the collectors are and the potential of the business. It was the best training you can ever imagine.”
Examining her next career move after time at Potterton Books, Daugherty wanted to jump into something unique. Bauer and Dean use a different type of publishing system than what is considered the norm in the industry. A subscription service is implemented for individual collectors and retail stores alike.
“I picked up an old fashioned model of publishing,” Daugherty said. “If you think about it, magazines still use it, you are essentially buying into a years worth of the service. The subscription is primarily to offer discounts to regulars.”
Daugherty explained that she had been following a more traditional model for her business but decided against it because of the amount of power an investor can have.
“I do have lendors. I was following the traditional investor model, but the problem with that is someone does have their toe in your business and it’s difficult,” she said. “That can cause problems.”
For individual consumers, there are different levels of subscriptions that one can buy into; a $385 level, a $1,000 level, a $2,500 level and a $5,000 level. For each level, there is a 10 to 20 percent discount; for the higher levels, one’s name is printed in the subscriber list in the front of every book in recognition of support.
“You start advertising the books very early so that people know that they are coming,” Daugherty said. “I have a number of clients at Potterton Books that have taught me so much and I have offered them what I can to thank them. The subscription is not so much; there’s a $385 level, a $1000 level, its truly minimal. So for anybody that collects books, it makes sense.”
For booksellers, at both the $2,500 and $5,000 level, 50 percent off the list price is offered, with names printed in each book as well.
“I do want to sell to book stores and specialty shops but I also want to promote through lectures and presentations,” Daugherty said. “So I will be selling a lot directly and whatever the authors and small groups want to address and are supporting. I kind of want to bring things back to the basics. They're expensive books, but for students I'm offering a student discount. It's not a lot but its something and I’m trying to think of more promotions for them and for people just starting out.”
Many of the books focus on the very basics of design and architecture, featuring drawings, sketchings, and floor plans to really bring a whole project depicted in any particular book together.
“So I’m trying to bring in everyone in the know who works together,” Daugherty explained. “What does a layman or an interior designer or an architect even know before starting a project? What are the restrictions for an installation for a piano?”
For example, in the soon-to-be released Pattern Book for Upholstery, the pages are filled with hand-drawn in-depth illustrations and plans for classic upholstery models, such as sofas, dining chairs and chaise lounges. Another anticipated book is The Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Pucci, which shows his own apartment, his work space, and every last detail down to the jars he keeps his scissors in, photographed in unstylized photos to truly capture the essence of the designer.
One of Daugherty’s biggest supporters in her new business has been design icon Albert Hadley. He has been behind Daugherty and her project since the beginning.
“Albert Hadley has been invaluable, so supportive. Of course, he has been highly critical in keeping me on track with quality of the drawings and selection of the models for the books. That man has the most brilliant eye,” she said. “Everything is very good quality and Mr. Hadley will look at a drawing in two seconds find a problem with it. He has given me the confidence, so with that I then approached the authors.”
Bauer and Dean currently have three titles that will be released in December, and have announced a new title to come out in 2012. Daugherty said that she has had a mostly positive response to the business as a whole.
“The response has been luke-warm, not as automatic as I had expected,” she said. “Which is interesting and good because I had to rethink some things but the people who have responded are people in the field so I feel like when the first book comes out, they'll see what I'm doing a little more concrete. I think I can grow it that way, because we accept subscribers anytime.”
Photos courtesy Bauer and Dean Publishers. From top: Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci; photographs by Baldomero Fernandez; The Pattern Book of Upholstery, llustrations by Anara Mambetova-Finkelstein; A Handbook of Italian Furniture from Antiquity to 1825, Venice and The Veneto, illustrations by Helen Costantino Fioratti.