"Moving Boys to Read" is the slogan publisher Eileen Robinson has chosen for her new company, Move Books, which is slated to launch in fall 2012. Based in Beacon Falls, Conn., the house will focus on middle-grade fiction for boys, and the program may eventually expand to include picture books, chapter books, and nonfiction.
"Everything I’ve done has led up to Move Books," says Robinson, who has been in publishing for 15 years most recently as executive editor of Children's Press at Scholastic, until she left the company in 2005. During her time there, Robinson was involved in educational, school, and library publishing, and, she explains, "I had the opportunity to work with and learn from those in trade publishing, as well as those with Scholastic’s book fairs, book clubs, and magazines."
Since leaving Scholastic, Robinson has launched F1rst Pages, which offers online editorial services to aspiring authors; and has collaborated with editor Harold Underdown to start Kid's Book Revisions, an online service that guides authors through the revision process. And in the past several years, she has been substitute teaching, "to get a feel for the 8-12 age group of readers."
A key inspiration for starting up Move Books, Robinson explains, was her son Michael, now nine. "He struggled as a reader, and it was difficult to find books that would grab his attention, make him laugh, and make him want to read on his own," she notes. "He and his friends seem to be drawn more to nonfiction, and like a lot of boys, they tend to read for information more than for pleasure. I am hoping that the novels Move Books publishes will provide that pleasure, and will encourage boys to pick them up rather than turn to a video game."
Move Books currently has "a staff of one," though Robinson notes that she is hiring editors and designers on a contract basis, has a manufacturer lined up, and is negotiating with a national distributor. She expects to sign up her first books this November and December, and anticipates the fall 2012 list will include between two and six titles."I’m looking to acquire all genres—humor, adventure, quests, problem-solving, and historical fiction. But what I’m really looking for are good, well-written novels that boys will flock to, laugh about, and tell their friends about."
Robinson, who talked to numerous teachers, librarians, booksellers, and media and reading specialists in preparation for launching Move Books, is gratified by the positive feedback and support she has received. "It’s been quite overwhelming," she says. "I’ve heard from so many people that the great need for fiction for middle-grade boys is currently not being addressed on a large scale. Teachers and librarians have told me that the middle-grade years for boys is where they make a real transition into a love of reading, but boys need the right books to make that transition. So many people have thanked me for starting this company."