By Christina Burton
For everyone who got a dose of “Why Black Men Love White Women” by Rajen Persaud, “Confessions of a Video Vixen” by Karrine Steffans and “Mama Dearest” by E. Lynn Harris, here’s the woman behind those hot titles and now, the first digital book publishing venture.
An author and a Pulitzer –prize winning former journalist, Karen Hunter has been on a successful streak in her publishing career. She has co-authored J.L. King’s “On the Down Low” and books by Al Sharpton, Donda West and Mason Betha. In 2007, she teamed with Simon & Schuster to launch Karen Hunter Publishing, an S&S imprint focused mostly on popular nonfiction aimed at the market for African-American titles. In January of this year, the New Jersey native launched First One Publishing, a completely digital book publishing company focused on releasing fiction and nonfiction books by veteran and emerging authors.
We caught up with Hunter to learn more about starting an e-book firm, about her not being a primarily black book publisher, and turning this part of her career toward faith.
Have you done like your publishing house and gone “all things digital?” Is there even a bookshelf in your house anymore?
I have several bookshelves; my movement is not about eliminating the physical book, it’s about embracing technology and the future and helping others get there. I have several computers, but I still write down my goals on paper with a pen. I still write notes and letters to people.
As a mastered journalist, I’m sure there’s always breaking information and research coming at you. What news helped birth First One Digital Publishing?
[It had] nothing to do with journalism. What inspired First One was [my] watching [nearly] five years go by since Sony produced one of the first e-readers, and watching the industry I was involved in do nothing to incorporate this new, very convenient form of reading. I saw the music industry implode because of its unwillingness to accept the technology and innovation shown by Napster and others. I saw that very same thing happening to publishing. I didn’t want to be left behind. Before First One, there was Karen Hunter Media, [which was] devoted to e-books. First One, through Mgmt-One [a Cincinnati business advisory firm], allowed me to take that vision to a new level.