After focusing on adult books since it was launched 18 years ago, last month Sourcebooks released its first children's title, Poetry Speaks to Children, edited by Elise Paschen. The anthology is a follow-up to the press's 2001 bestselling compilation Poetry Speaks, also edited by Paschen, which has sold more than 150,000 copies.
Like the 23 other titles published under the Sourcebooks MediaFusion multimedia imprint, launched five years ago, Poetry Speaks to Children is an integrated book and CD package. The illustrated book features 95 poems by 73 poets, while the CD contains 52 poems recited by 36 poets, most of them performing their own work, and some—like Paul Muldoon reading from W.B. Yeats—reciting the work of deceased poets.
"Poetry typically is something that people get into later," Sourcebooks founder Dominique Raccah said. "We wanted to create a space where kids and parents can get into poetry together. We hope this book will become 'your first poetry book' for kids."
Raccah might get her wish. After its release in mid-October, the book debuted at #13 on the November 6 Book Sense children's national bestseller list (it's #11 this week) and sold out its first print run of 55,000 copies that same week. Sourcebooks recently went back for a second print run of 20,000 copies. In addition to selling well in the trade market, Raccah said, Poetry has done surprisingly well in the Christian and home-schooling markets.
Raccah would like to make poetry and literature more accessible to readers and, to that end, the company has begun publishing multimedia editions of William Shakespeare's plays in book/CD packages. It published Othello and Romeo and Juliet this fall and, beginning in 2006, plans to publish six Shakespeare plays each year.
Reflecting on the new publishing direction for Sourcebooks, which has focused on business and finance titles, Raccah said, "I feel like I'm at the end of the beginning. This is the company we're going to be."