Storey Publishing, in North Adams, Mass., is going interactive—with print. While booksellers can find Storey titles on Above the Treeline and Edelweiss, it’s also one of the few presses to invest in a print catalogue this season—and the only one to turn it into a pop-up catalogue, which includes marketing materials on an attached DVD. By encouraging book buyers to lift the flaps, the press is sending the not so subtle message that its physical books, even ones on maple sugaring like Tim Herd’s newly released Maple Sugar: From Sap to Syrup, can be just as appealing as an app. It’s also a way to prepare booksellers for a reinvigorated children’s list coming in the fall, including the press’s first board books and an activity kit.
For Storey COO Dan Reynolds, the pop-up catalogue provides an opportunity to enhance booksellers’ awareness of Storey’s publishing program. “This just brings another level of energy to the [sales] appointment. Our traditional history was not to be in bookstores at all, but nursery garden centers. We had 3,500 active special markets last year. They see a book as selling more items, and merchandise it that way.” Sales to both trade and specialty markets have been solid, and even with troubles at Borders, Storey finished last year up, without e-books cannibalizing print sales. “We’ve had nice growth over the past six years, mostly single digits,” said Reynolds. “That’s pleasurable in this economy.”
In addition to using the print catalogue to make its list stand out, Storey works on making its physical books appealing. “For giftability, if for no other reason, you have to pay attention to the paper and the cover selections,” noted Storey president Pam Art. “As books migrate to the electronic world, we have to make sure physical books are tactile in a special way.” The press also designs its covers to make readers feel—happy. Most rely on illustrations and upbeat colors to create an emotional connection.
Storey’s displays are also designed to make a strong first impression, like this season’s display promoting homesteading titles, which shipped with a wooden trolley cart from Ikea with 26 assorted titles. “Homesteading is appealing to consumers, but the books get shelved in different categories. That was the impetus” to add a cart, said Reynolds, who noted that the cart is more eco-friendly and costs almost the same as a corrugated cardboard dump. Similar displays are available for Chick Days and gardening series.
Many books in Storey’s adult line are a call to action—to discover, create, and engage in the world. So, too, with its new children’s titles, like last fall’s Sewing School by Amie Plumley and Andria Lisle, which includes projects for kids 5–12. After trying to publish too many children’s books too fast by creating a separate line in fall 2002, the press discontinued the line, and Storey is reintroducing children’s books without the framework of an imprint. It is choosing books that are more subject-driven and oriented toward projects done with an adult. “The big premise for us,” said Art, “is that we’re not going to diverge too far from adult categories. If we stay in the same categories, we can sell them into the same accounts and keep them in alignment with our message: practical information in harmony with the environment. We didn’t see the value of an imprint.”
By not labeling them as children’s books, the press is also hoping to create nonfiction that crosses over ages. “When you think about it,” said Art, “a lot of our animal-raising books are for kids and their families.” For The Nature Connection, noted Storey editorial director Deborah Balmuth, “it was important to author Clare Walker Leslie that the book appeal to parents. They don’t have this knowledge themselves; they’re learning along with their kids.” In addition, as the reading level has gone down nationally, books on animal raising and cooking that are geared to families can be just as helpful for adults.
Storey is not doing a set number of children’s books per year. This spring it will release three children-oriented books and two in the fall. For its two new format books for the fall, Storey has chosen two of its strongest categories, farming and equestrian. My First Farm Friends by Betsy Wallin includes four illustrated board books packaged in a box shaped like a barn and comes with pop-out standup figures, the package priced at $18.95. Pop-Out and Paint Horse Breeds ($14.95) is geared to older children and includes paint and templates so they can get everything just right, down to the spots on the Appaloosa.