Algonquin, for 30 years publishers of literary fiction and nonfiction for adults, is celebrating its entrance into the children’s market with a nonhostile takeover at BEA. This afternoon, 2–5 p.m., the new Algonquin Young Readers imprint is appropriating booth 839 to host a party for the new imprint. Three of the authors on the inaugural list, debuting in August, will be signing books: Amy Herrick (The Time Fetch), Sara Farizan (If You Could Be Mine), and Hollis Seaman (Somebody Up There Hates You).
At the helm of Algonquin Young Readers is editor and publisher Elise Howard, who explains that the new imprint’s tagline (“A well-read life begins here”) riffs off of Algonquin’s tagline, “Books for a well-read life.” Her list’s mission is “pretty direct,” she says. “I hope to publish books for true readers who will eventually read the kinds of books Algonquin publishes. I am looking for books that are character- and voice-driven and are particularly notable for their excellent writing.”
Working from the New York City offices of Workman, Algonquin’s parent company, Howard appears to be off to a running start. Two novels on her debut list landed coveted spots on this year’s BEA Editor Buzz Panels—If You Could Be Mine for the YA panel and Herrick’s The Time Fetch for the middle-grade panel. “It’s gratifying,” says Howard of this recognition. “It is a nice validation that we’re getting this measure of support from the bookselling community.”
Howard is eager to talk about both novels during the Editor Buzz Panels. “Sara Farizan’s novel, which centers on two lesbian teens in Lebanon, very effectively pushes a couple of envelopes, and Amy Herrick’s novel has one foot firmly in contemporary Brooklyn, but also transports readers to magical places,” she says. “They both deserve to be talked about, which is of course the mission of these panels. I look forward to sharing both.”
The editor notes that middle-grade and YA fiction are at the heart of the Algonquin Young Readers publishing program, though she adds, “If I found a terrific chapter book, I would want to publish it, and I’d also think about adding one or two narrative nonfiction titles a year to the list.” The imprint’s launch list includes new and veteran children’s book authors, which Howard says is “more coincidental than intentional. What I’m striving to find are books I absolutely fall in love with and can get behind passionately. At the start, I’ve had the good fortune to line up some authors with established publishing records as well as new voices.”
Howard is thrilled to be hosting today’s booth takeover, whose guest attendees will include authors as well as what she calls “our merry band of booksellers.” These are indie booksellers Algonquin recruited as early readers. “Craig Popelars, our head of marketing, and our field reps contacted a number of booksellers Algonquin had established rapport with to read our books as manuscripts and offer early endorsements as well as advice,” she notes. “We’re very excited some of them will be with us at the BEA.”