International Industry Notes: A PEN Revival and a Branding Boost for Open Road

In News by Porter Anderson

PEN’s ‘welcome counterbalance to rampant xenophobia’ and a new look for future developments at Open Road Integrated Media.
A new logo for Open Road Integrated Media 'unites all of the company’s consumer brands under one modern mark.'

A new logo for Open Road Integrated Media ‘unites all of the company’s consumer brands under one modern mark.’

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

When Is an ‘I’ Like a Slash?

“Creating a brand requires careful consideration and purpose, sometimes taking months to come together,” according to Open Road Integrated Media‘s Creative Product Director Brett Yancy Collins. 

“But the new Open Road logo,” Collins is quoted saying, “almost created itself. Consulting firm Spark 9 created a sketch that became the catalyst for the bold word mark. As soon as I saw the incomplete sketch, I saw the solution in my mind.”

Originally the creation of industry veteran Jane Friedman, Open Road is the backlist ebook specialty house that has more than 10,000 titles from a roster of some 2,000 authors. The UK offices are helmed by Charlie Grieg, who spoke with Publishing Perspectives this spring.

Seven years in, and with Friedman having just stepped into the role of chair, the company is rolling out new corporate branding.

Julie Blattberg

Julie Blattberg

Julie Blattberg, Vice President of Strategic Operations, is quoted saying, “It’s truly satisfying to see all the creative work we’ve been doing expressed in a clear and modern web experience….who we are, what we do, and where the company is going. Our designer Susan Morrissey did a brilliant job in creating our new B2B calling card.”

In recent years,” prepared information for the media reads, “Open Road Integrated Media began to extend its consumer reach with new digital product lines, including the Early Bird Books newsletter for avid ebook readers, and various channels under the The Lineup brand for fans of true crime, horror, the mysterious, and the paranormal.

And it seems that these directions are meant to be represented in the slash included in Spark 9’s new design: “One of the more interesting elements of the new visual design,” says the company statement, “is the presentation of the letter ‘I’ for “Integrated,” which now resembles a slash—a symbol critical for web addresses, HTML tags, and code.”

Whether that slash will relate to an “I” for “Integrated” in the minds of observers—or whether it matters—remains to be seen.

Collins concludes: “The final mark has clean, strong lines, forming a powerful silhouette that can be applied across digital and print products.”

Stressing Internationalism

The Valdimir Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature is being revived by PEN America.

“The revitalized prize,” according to a statement, “will award $50,000 to a writer born or residing outside the United States for an outstanding body of work over a sustained career” and is backed by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation.

The prize was originally created by PEN and the foundation in 2000 and was offered through 2008 Offered through 2008. That edition of the award was biennial and carried $20,000 in prize money, going to writers Mavis Gallant, William H. Gass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Cynthia Ozick, and Philip Roth.

It’s Andrew Solomon, PEN America President, who speaks in the prepared statement and makes clear the importance of internationalism to the Nabokov’s revival:

PEN America logo lined“The new PEN/Nabokov Award is the first PEN America honor specifically focused on international writers. At a time when there is too little dialogue between nations, it will draw attention to outstanding global voices that may be unknown to most US readers.

“It is a welcome counterbalance to rampant xenophobia and increasingly jingoistic provincialism.

“In renewing our close collaboration with the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, PEN America pays tribute to the cross-cultural legacy of one of the most revered multinational PEN Members, a master of storytelling: Vladimir Nabokov.”

The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature will be conferred for the first time in 2017, according to press materials, with the inaugural recipient to be named at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York this February.

And with the return of the Nabokov, PEN America’s grants and prizes in 2017 will total nearly $315,000, the organization reports, almost doubling its 2015 monetary awards to working writers.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.