RELIGION

How Seeker Spirituality Is Shaping The World Of Publishing

Harper's new line of books is tailored toward spiritual explorers of all sorts.

For some, the journey of spiritual self-discovery begins by picking up a book -- and there couldn’t be a better time to do so.

This fall, HarperOne, the San Francisco-based imprint of HarperCollins, launched HarperElixir, a line of books specifically targeting people who seek the answers to life’s big questions.

“The audience is the modern seeker… people who are spiritual and magical and passionate and curious and they want to answer the call to go deeper,” said Claudia Boutote, senior vice president and publisher of HarperElixir.

Boutote and senior editor Libby Edelson kicked off the line with The Toltec Art of Life and Death by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The New York Times bestseller The Four Agreements. They also published books by psychologist Carol S. Pearson and relationship expert Arielle Ford, as well as two adult coloring books by Lydia Hess.

Just three months in, Boutote said the new line captures the zeitgeist of American spirituality while building on the legacy that authors like Ruiz have nurtured over the last few decades.

“A couple of years ago, [HarperOne] started to see that all of a sudden there was a new burgeoning of seekers that was bubbling up. … We felt we’d be able to contribute to that contemporary conversation,” said Boutote, who has worked at HarperOne for 11 years.

It’s clear the audience for books on spirituality will continue to grow. Religious “nones,” or people who are religiously unaffiliated but seek spirituality and transformation in nontraditional places, make up the second-largest and fastest-growing spiritual category in the United States. And HarperOne’s backlist of over 400 older books in the "mind, body, spirit" category continue to sell year after year, Boutote said.

HarperElixir joins the ranks of publishing houses like Hay House and Harmony Books that have made the "mind, body, spirit" movement a marketable category unto itself. HarperOne has been churning out works by spirituality-focused authors like Deepak Chopra, Ram Das and Marianne Williamson for decades.

But HarperElixir is even more specialized, specifically targeting spiritual seekers. The line occupies the territory “where hippie meets hipster,” Boutote said, drawing in a new generation while staying true to older readers who were raised on the likes of Chopra and Das and who are “still seeking, just at a different stage of life.”

Many of the line’s upcoming authors for 2016 have yet to become household names. Kim Krans, illustrator of The Wild Unknown tarot cards, and Guru Jagat, a Kundalini yoga teacher recently featured in Los Angeles Magazine and pictured below, will have titles out with HarperElixir in the upcoming year. For Boutote, any one of these new authors could be the spiritual powerhouses of tomorrow.

“When wisdom is very pure and authentic, it’s lasting, and it really does stand the test of time,” Boutote told HuffPost. “Those are the authors we are looking to publish here -- authors who will have something to publish for today, but what they say will be relevant for years to come.”

Seeker spirituality is broad and can include many different practices and worldviews, which is why books published under HarperElixir will cover everything from yoga and happiness coaching to astrology and healing crystals. What unites the titles, Boutote said, is that they all strive to help people trying to answer questions like “Where am I going? What happens when I die? How can I connect with the divine?” 

“We’re asking these big questions and hoping to help answer them for people,” she said.

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