This month Square Fish is debuting its Flip Me paperback line, which presents two back-to-back, flip-over chapter books by one author in a single volume. The program draws from the backlists of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group’s four imprints: Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Henry Holt; Roaring Brook; and Feiwel and Friends. Launching the line are Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse/Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride by George Selden, illustrated by Garth Williams; and Maybelle in the Soup/Maybelle Goes to Tea by Katie Speck, with art by Paul Rátz de Tagyos. Basketball Bats/Goof-Off Goalie by Betty Hicks, illustrated by Adam McCauley, is due in November.
A practical concern inspired the program, explains Jean Feiwel, senior v-p and director of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and publisher of Square Fish and Feiwel & Friends, who informally refers to the Flip Me line as “Square Fish Squared.” She notes, “So many novels for this reading group, ages six to nine, are under 100 pages, and when you put them into paperback they can disappear on the shelf if they are placed spine out. We came up with the idea of putting two books together, to give the novels more shelf presence, and offer two novels for the price of one.” Square Fish can price the Flip Me books at $6.99, Feiwel says, because of the relatively short length of each novel and the economy of creating just one cover.
When selecting novels to include in this program, the publisher considers the books’ subject matter and hardcover history. “We want to offer options for different reading tastes and include titles that have strong track records in hardcover for one reason or another,” Feiwel says. “Either they are classics in the sense of the Selden novels, or state award winners like Katie Speck’s Maybelle books, or fall into a popular category, like Betty Hicks’s sports stories.”
Feiwel anticipates that one new Flip Me title will be added to Square Fish’s list each subsequent publishing season. “We believe that this is a way of publishing much more efficiently for this audience,” she says. “Of course any time you publish a little out of the box, people always question exactly what it is that you’re doing and we will have to exert a little more muscle to get these books the distribution they deserve. These are great novels—and are a great value.”
Mark von Bargen, director of sales for the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, reports that the positive response of many accounts has validated the value aspect of the Flip Me program. “In this current economic climate, offering two books by a successful author at this price is definitely a good idea,” he says. “We’re seeing terrific distribution through independent bookstores, and a number of our wholesale customers, including Baker & Taylor, Ingram and Bookazine, are being very supportive. This is very gratifying and encouraging, and we believe that once these books reach the shelves, the marketplace will speak and the program will be successful.”
Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse/Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride by George Selden, illus. by Garth Williams. Square Fish, $6.99 ISBN 978-0-312-58248-7
Maybelle in the Soup/Maybelle Goes to Tea by Katie Speck, illus. by Paul Rátz de Tagyos. Square Fish, $6.99 ISBN 978-0-312-53598-8
Basketball Bats/Goof-Off Goalie by Betty Hicks, illus. by Adam McCauley. Square Fish, $6.99 ISBN 978-0-312-58247-0