John Lithgow’s satirical illustrated poetry book about Donald Trump’s presidency leads Chronicle Prism’s fall 2019 list. (Courtesy photo)

Chronicle Books launches narrative non-fiction imprint

Longtime design-centric SF publisher expands focus

Chronicle Books, long known for its high-quality, graphically pleasing publications, has launched a new line, called Chronicle Prism, with a new focus on narrative non-fiction.

“Oddly, our first book is poetry,” says Chronicle Books President Tyrrell Mahoney, describing “Dumpty,” a satirical history of Donald Trump’s presidency in verse by John Lithgow slated for release in October.

“It’s not where we intended to start,” says Mahoney, explaining that working with an artist of Lithgow’s stature and renown would enable the company to quickly attract experts in varied fields and widen its scope as it ventures into the rapidly growing audio book market.

Established in 1967 in San Francisco, Chronicle Books, Mahoney says, is known as the best independent purveyor of illustrated publications — stationery and gifts as well as cookbooks, children’s titles, photography books and other offerings with strong graphic design — in the industry.

Chronicle Prism — the inaugural list includes seven titles in fall-spring 2019-20 — represents the company’s first foray into non-fiction, narrative, “prescriptive” publishing, with an emphasis as much on the content’s depth as visual component. Topics include health, religion, spirituality, memoir, personal growth, pop culture, “creative” business and social change.

Mark Tauber, managing director of Chronicle Prism and formerly a publisher at HarperCollins, is thrilled with his job, pointing to his opporturnity to be selective in acquiring titles; the company’s reach and distribution, with sales at a wide variety of retailers, not just bookstores, and the fact that the headquarters are in his hometown.

Mahoney echoes his sentiment: “Everything we do is inspired by the California lifestyle or aesthetic, the influence of the outdoors, of new interests and trends that take hold here. We want to continue to shine a light on that and use that to our advantage.”

Chronicle Prism fall list

Between Heaven and Hell: San Francisco writer David Talbot, bestselling author and founder of Salon, describes how he survived a near-death experience in his memoir, subtitled “The Story of My Stroke.”

Dumpty: Subtitled “The Age of Trump in Verse,” John Lithgow’s satirical poetry collection takes on chaotic recent years in U.S. American politics — in rhyme.

Find Your F*ckyeah: Alexis Rockley’s guide, subtitled “Stop Censoring Who You Are and Discover What You Really Want,” dispels myths created by mock gurus and self-proclaimed self-care experts.

Scarred: In her memoir subtitled “The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life,” Sarah Edmondson details her journey working for a personal and professional development company, followed by a harrowing fight to get out.

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