San Francisco publisher Chronicle Books has partnered with Paris-based Éditions Tourbillon, an imprint of France’s Bayard Presse, to distribute Twirl Books, a new English-language list of interactive books and games for very young readers. Under the arrangement, Chronicle will distribute Twirl Books worldwide, except in France; in the U.K. and European markets, the list will be sold by Abrams & Chronicle Books, the London-based joint venture between these two companies.
Chronicle’s association with Éditions Tourbillon, which means ‘whirlpool’ in French, hence the spin-off name Twirl, is rooted in Christopher Franceschelli’s relationship with the French publisher. The self-described “godfather” of the Twirl distribution venture, Franceschelli had previously licensed properties from other Bayard imprints – including Hervé Tullet’s Press Here and Xavier Deneux’s TouchThinkLearn series from Éditions Milan – for Chronicle’s Handprint Books imprint, which he heads up.
“After several years of working together, we began a conversation about the possibility of creating a new imprint with Bayard’s Tourbillon imprint,” Franceschelli explained. “Bayard saw that Chronicle had been successful with English-language editions of some of their titles, and wanted to get their feet wet in the U.S. market. What’s special here beyond the usual distribution relationship, where the distributee publisher shows up with a bag of books and says, ‘Here, sell them,’ is that Chronicle’s editorial and marketing teams entered into discussion with their counterparts at Éditions Tourbillon to help fine-tune the Twirl list and select titles we thought would be right, not only for the North American market, but the U.K. market as well.”
Due out in March, the five debut Twirl releases reflect the imprint’s focus on interactive formats. With a few twists and turns of their hands, readers of Presto Change-O! A Book of Animal Magic by Édouard Manceau can transform animals into other objects. The Ultimate Book of Vehicles by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Didier Balicevic features flaps, wheels to turn, and other moving parts. Two siblings learn to say and spell words in Xavier Deneux’s Jojo’s First Word Book, a board book with tabs and a handle for carrying. A Tree for All Seasons by Maryse Guittet is a tree-shaped die-cut board book with flaps. And Édouard Manceau’s My First Color Dominoes packages 28 domino tiles with a board book.
Ginee Seo, Chronicle’s children’s publishing director, praised the design and content of the offerings on the Twirl list, which she views as an ideal complement to the Chronicle list. “We were very impressed with the books’ aesthetic, and felt it was a good match for us,” she said. “Our children’s books have always had somewhat of a European sensibility on the design side, and we also have a tradition of buying titles from other countries, France in particular.”
Chronicle Books will distribute 10 to 12 Twirl titles annually in the North American market, while Chronicle and Abrams Books distributes them simultaneously in the U.K. and Europe. Early indications are that Twirl books are a good fit for the children’s marketplace on this side of the Atlantic. “The response has been really positive so far,” noted Franceschelli. “Several of the titles have received starred reviews and two of the five spring titles are already up for reprinting.”
Presto Change-O! A Book of Animal Magic by Édouard Manceau. Éditions Tourbillon/Twirl Books (dist. by Chronicle), $16.99 Mar. ISBN 978-2-8480-1944-4
The Ultimate Book of Vehicles by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Didier Balicevic. Éditions Tourbillon/Twirl Books (dist. by Chronicle), $19.99 Mar. ISBN 978-2-8480-1942-0
Jojo’s First Word Book by Xavier Deneux. Éditions Tourbillon/Twirl Books (dist. by Chronicle), $16.99 Mar. ISBN 978-2848-01943-7
A Tree for All Seasons by Maryse Guittet. Éditions Tourbillon/Twirl Books (dist. by Chronicle), $9.99 Mar. ISBN 978-2848-01945-1
My First Color Dominoes by Édouard Manceau. Éditions Tourbillon/Twirl Books (dist. by Chronicle), $13.99 Mar. ISBN 978-2848-01946-8