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Mayo Clinic writes a new chapter in book publishing business

May 13, 2019

After almost 30 years producing books, Mayo Clinic is starting a new chapter by becoming its own book publisher.

“We’re transitioning from just being an author to being an author and a publisher,” Mayo Clinic Press Manager Daniel Harke said this week.

That means taking over the editing, design, printing and marketing for every book with the Mayo Clinic name on it. There are about 40 Mayo Clinic titles.

Mayo Clinic is known for a variety of health-related books, such as “The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book” and “The Mayo Clinic Diet.” There about 1.5 million copies of the “Family Health Book,” now in its fifth edition. About 500,000 copies of “The Mayo Clinic Diet,” now in its second edition, have been sold.

In the past, books written by Mayo Clinic physicians and staff were printed and sold by a variety of publishers.

Given concern over medical accuracy, Mayo Clinic wanted a lot of control over editing. Some publishers were not open to that.

When one comma in the wrong place can change the meaning, that was never really a good fit for Mayo Clinic,” Harke said.

In addition to solidifying editorial control, bringing all of the books under one publishing imprint will make it easier for retailers to know where to find Mayo Clinic books.

“This will certainly increase attractiveness of our books,” he said. “They (retailers) never really knew where to get Mayo Clinic books.”

While Mayo Clinic is the publisher, publishing giant Simon & Schuster will connect with retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and handle distribution of the books.

”Mayo Clinic’s Guide To Fibromyalgia: Strategies To Take Back Your Life,” by Dr. Andy Abril and Dr. Barbara Bruce is scheduled to be published in September with a initial print run of 33,000 copies.

Harke said Mayo Clinic now publishes one or two titles a year and does updated editions of two or three other books.

“We plan to try to grow Mayo Clinic Press,” he said. “I see the number of books published growing by one or two books a year.”

Harke declined to estimate the financial value of Mayo Clinic’s book publishing business. However, a bankruptcy auction of a publisher than handled nine Mayo Clinic titles in 2014 provides some context.

Skyhorse Publishing and The Perseus Books Group purchased the rights to nine Mayo Clinic books, including the “Mayo Clinic Diet,” for $1.57 million at the auction of bankrupt publisher Good Books.