This fall, Random House will launch a brand-new imprint, and the woman at its helm is no stranger to the world of novelty books. Robin Corey landed at Random House in February 2006; she had most recently been executive v-p and publisher of novelty books, media tie-ins and teen publishing at Simon & Schuster. (Previously she worked at Intervisual Books, Warner Juvenile Books, Crown/Outlet and Dutton.) Her new imprint, Robin Corey Books, focuses on a mix of pop-up and other novelty titles.
“In previous jobs, as much as I’ve enjoyed them, my mandate was really not to edit books but to oversee an infinitely larger publishing program of many imprints,” Corey said. “What I love most is editing books and working with authors, illustrators and paper engineers—some of the best ones out there.”
Indeed, the imprint’s debut list isn’t hurting for bestselling authors and illustrators. It consists of four titles: What’s Wrong, Little Pookie?, a board book by Sandra Boynton; How Many?, the first pop-up book in more than six years from Ron van der Meer; Big and Little by John Stadler, which uses gatefold flaps to highlight the concept of opposites; and the holiday board book Christmas Is Coming! by Lisa Ann Marsoli, illustrated by Lucy Barnard, which utilizes a rotating wheel to move touch-and-feel elements on each page.
Corey cites Christmas Is Coming! as an example of the kind of book that sets her imprint apart. “Yes, there are many touch-and-feel books out there and books that use a wheel. But as far as I know, this is the first to use a wheel to move the touch-and-feel elements.”
And it looks as though the fall list is off to a strong start. “Advance orders on How Many? are wonderful,” said Chip Gibson, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books. What’s Wrong, Little Pookie? “is outpacing our budget assumptions by a lot.”
Corey aims to publish 12 to 15 titles per year, which she believes will permit greater focus on each individual title. “It allows me to be a little more selective and innovative in what I’m doing,” she said. “And because an imprint doesn’t live by pop-ups alone, I have a few picture books signed up.”
Heather Doss, children’s book buyer at Bookazine, is excited by the imprint’s initial offerings. “The debut list is fantastic,” she said, adding that she believed the product mix is the right one. “It seems like they have a [good balance] of picture books, board books and pop-ups. They’re not sticking with one particular type and not trying to spread themselves too thin.”
Corey notes that nontraditional outlets, including Babies “R” Us, Target and Wal-Mart have been “very receptive to the first couple of lists,” but she acknowledges a sometimes crowded marketplace. “The good and bad news is, in the last few years most publishers, including Random House, who weren’t as invested in pop-up and novelty, have become so, which makes us need to be more diligent so as not to flood the marketplace and overpublish,” she said.