Over the past few years, it’s become standard for blue-chip galleries to launch art-book publishing operations. Those imprints have generally set their sights on art audiences, wooing them with luxe monographs and stylish editions of previously out-of-print tomes, but now one business has plans to reach a more mainstream audience.
David Zwirner Books has launched a partnership with Simon & Schuster, one of the largest and most high-profile publishers in the world. The deal will allow David Zwirner, which has locations in New York, London, and Hong Kong, to become the first gallery to have mainstream distribution for its books in North America.
Founded in 2014, David Zwirner Books previously distributed its offerings through Artbook | D.A.P., which works with many galleries and institutions and caters primarily to the art world. The new partnership with Simon & Schuster will mean that David Zwirner Books will no longer have its books distributed in North America by D.A.P.
“I think they helped us expand to the limits of what you can do as an art publisher,” Lucas Zwirner, the editorial director of David Zwirner Books, told ARTnews of working with D.A.P. “Everything we do is still tethered to visual art, but to go out there, and to go to a novelist and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to publish your novel,’ I need to know that I can sell enough books for it to be worth it for that novelist.”
Zwirner explained that, through Simon & Schuster, David Zwirner Books could potentially have its books placed in airports and Target stores across America. It will also allow the publishing house to have its tomes categorized on Amazon in areas with greater visibility, which could lead to more sales.
According to Zwirner, the deal is part of a larger initiative at Simon & Schuster to distribute art books. “Simon & Schuster sees the illustrated-book niche as something that could become a much larger part of the market,” he said. “They think there’s room for growth there.”
Michael Perlman, the vice president and general manager of Simon & Schuster Publisher Services, said in a statement, “David Zwirner Books has redefined what a gallery publisher can be and is now responsible for many of the most exciting and dynamic art books in the industry. We have been impressed by David Zwirner Books’s editorial focus, the quality and range of its titles, and its traction both within the art world and beyond. We are eager to bring their impressive titles to readers across the U.S.”
Since its start several years ago, David Zwirner Books’ ambitions have grown rapidly—it began by publishing around five books a year, and it now puts out around 30 volumes annually. Among the notable books it has published are a reissue of The Sweet Flypaper of Life, a 1955 book that features photographs by Roy DeCarava; an anthology of Donald Judd’s writings; and monographs of work by Ruth Asawa, Michaël Borremans, and Yayoi Kusama.
Lucas Zwirner said that David Zwirner Books’s partnership with Simon & Schuster will help the gallery prepare for the years to come. “At one point, galleries were just a place where you sold art, and now it’s a place where you publish books, it’s a place where you publish podcasts, it’s a place where you produce video content, it’s a place where you have an online presence.” he said. “We’re really thinking about: What kind of gallery do we want to be in the future?”