Roaring Brook Press has signed a deal with author David Macaulay establishing a new imprint, David Macaulay Studio, which will launch in 2011. The news comes three months after the retirement of Walter Lorraine, Macaulay’s longtime editor at Houghton Mifflin. The imprint will publish future books by Macaulay, who will serve as creative director, as well as titles by other authors and illustrators.
Two books by Macaulay were signed up as part of the arrangement: Home Sweet Home, about the Earth’s climate and ecosystems, and a second book centering on American history. Decisions as to the specifics of Macaulay’s role as creative director or to the size of the imprint’s staff (Roaring Brook plans to use existing staff initially) have not yet been made.
“Roaring Brook has given me a chance to try something new and slightly daunting,” Macaulay said. “Under my own imprint, with matching towels and pillow cases, I will not only be able to continue making my own books, but I’ll also have the opportunity to encourage and support creative people who share my commitment to meaningful content.” Macaulay’s 35-year career as an author began in 1973 with the publication of Cathedral, and included such books as The Way Things Work, Pyramid, Mosque and Unbuilding. He won the 1990 Caldecott Medal for Black and White, and was a Macarthur Fellow in 2006. Macaulay’s long-awaited next book, The Way We Work, is due out from Houghton Mifflin this fall.
According to Simon Boughton, publisher of Roaring Brook, the acquisition is significant, not just for Roaring Brook but for Macmillan at large. “Macmillan as a corporation has been building its children’s publishing businesses over several years,” he explained. “It began with the acquisition of Roaring Brook in 2004, adding to it with Jean Feiwel’s imprint, Square Fish and Kingfisher with Macmillan U.K. We saw an opportunity here not just for Roaring Brook but for Macmillan’s children’s publishing overall to add a substantial and important piece,” Boughton added, noting that the corporate discussions about the addition of the imprint “went all the way up through the organization.”
Boughton said that Roaring Brook first met with Macaulay and his agent, Ken Wright at Writers House, earlier this year, and put together a proposal afterwards. The publisher believes that Macaulay’s work and vision mesh with Roaring Brook’s increased attention to nonfiction publishing, partly evidenced by the launch of its Flash Point imprint this spring. “Personally, I am a big admirer of David Macaulay and would always have jumped at the chance to publish him,” Boughton said. “Beyond that, the nature of the work he does—the explanatory nonfiction and his intellectual curiosity and the kind of books he’s built his career on—do lend themselves to very broad distribution. It is an opportunity to think not just about print publishing, but also other media, digital platforms and so on. We are committed to exploring them, as well as print.”
The imprint will feature books by Macaulay as well as ancillary books based on those titles. “There’s real brand strength in the name David Macaulay,” Boughton said. “We have the opportunity to create multi-book properties.” Roaring Brook also hopes to bring other authors into David Macaulay Studio, with Macaulay’s sensibility governing the imprint’s direction. “He’s a collaborative author—he likes to work with people,” said Boughton. “An imprint structure formalizes that collaborative nature. The word ‘studio’ was deliberately chosen for that reason. It suggests people working together toward a high-quality outcome.”