Our central mission at Texas Monthly is to craft the best storytelling about this fascinating state. We gladly deliver stories to fast-growing audiences on our website and in podcasts and videos. But I’ll admit that I and many of my colleagues retain a special affection for ink on paper, as we know many of you do. We’re pleased that amid a decline in the readership of many physical magazines, demand for print subscriptions to TM remains strong.
So, surprisingly, does demand for printed books. Some experts predicted that the rise of e-books would render the classic variety obsolete. Yet sales of both digital and physical books have risen in recent years, with the latter growing by 6.4 percent in the first nine months of 2020. During the pandemic, we’ve rediscovered the pleasure of curling up with a novel after a long day spent in front of a computer. That’s a trend, like online grocery shopping, that will stay with us long after COVID-19 is gone. At least, that’s what I’m hoping—and betting.
I’m pleased to announce that in late November, Texas Monthly signed a deal to produce four books over the next four years, to be published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins. The first volume will go on sale next fall and will cover, in scores of articles by the state’s best writers, the many ways one can be Texan, the landscapes and traditions that we love, the vibrancy and diversity of our small towns and cities, our music and cuisine, and the continuing evolution of the Lone Star State.
Our second work will be a cookbook stuffed with essays and recipes from Texans of every background. It will cover barbecue and chili, tacos and tamales, kolaches and klobasniky, bratwurst and beer, chicken-fried steak and King Ranch casserole, and many of the scrumptious foods brought here by the roughly 1.4 million Texans who hail from Asia and Africa.
Our heroes, like Waylon’s and Willie’s, have always been cowboys, and they’ll be the subject of our fourth book, which will include chapters on classic cattle drives, vaqueros, Black cowboys, rodeo stars, and contemporary cowboys.
Overseeing these efforts is editor-at-large Tom Foster, with assists from several colleagues, including Kathy Blackwell, Jason Heid, and Emily Kimbro. “These books will bring alive all the ways that Texas is changing,” Tom says, “along with what we’re remembering and preserving.”
We’re delighted to be working with editorial director Julie Will and her team at Harper Wave, who bring valuable experience working with a magazine staff to publish books. “These books will appeal to a national audience,” Julie says, “addressing how Texans define home, honor, and community; celebrate the diversity of their culture; and argue over the best way to smoke a brisket.”
We owe thanks to our industrious literary agent Amy Hughes, who introduced us to Julie, and to best-selling author and TM writer-at-large Sam Gwynne, who introduced us to Amy. We intend to make these books both engaging to read and physically beautiful, with original illustrations and photos and distinctive trim sizes. We hope they earn a place in your hands and on your shelves. And if you want to read them on an iPad instead, that’s fine too.
This article originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Books Are Back.” Subscribe today.