The SF Chronicle’s Heidi Benson examines how HarperCollins’ San Francisco-based imprint – see, it used to be called HarperSanFrancisco, and Benson refers to the house that way in the piece, but aren’t we supposed to be calling it HarperOne now? Or is that not sticking anymore? – is looking to capitalize on the void er, left behind by the Tim Lahaye/Jerry Jenkins series ending its 12-book run. And so, Harper-whatever-it-is-called is launching a line of Christian “inspirational fiction” for women. The new imprint — developed in collaboration with Avon, a paperback line within HarperCollins — is called Avon Inspire.
“Avon Inspire is gentle reading, safe reading,” Cynthia DiTiberio, (left) editor of the new book line, told Benson. “They end with a kiss and a proposal. … It’s ‘Sex & the City’ without the sex.” The first title, “Defiant Heart” by Tracey Bateman, comes out May 8 with a first printing of 50,000 – not exactly small potatoes. “This is not a small, niche market anymore,” DiTiberio said. ” ‘Left Behind’ had a lot to do with it. Until the ‘Left Behind’ books sold in such huge numbers, a New York publishing house didn’t have any reason to pay attention to Christian readers.”