Starting January 1, Chronicle Books will handle retail and library wholesale distribution in the U.S. and Canada for the two trade divisions of The Creative Company, a 78-year-old children’s book publisher in Mankato, Minn.: Creative Paperbacks, primarily paperback nonfiction titles, and Creative Editions, its picture book line. TCC will continue to sell its Creative Education titles into the school and public library markets.

The San Francisco-based publisher is very selective when it comes to choosing distribution partners; this is only the third children’s book line that Chronicle has taken on. Its reps carry Blue Apple in their bags and before that North-South. “The economics have to work,” explains Chronicle president Jack Jensen. “But the first consideration is what would the list bring to our publishing overall. It’s no secret that children’s is one of the more pleasant parts of the book market. We’ve had solid internal growth.”

Jensen has long admired TCC’s books. “It creates magnificently illustrated books praised for innovation and recognized globally for their beauty and enduring educational value,” he says. And he anticipates strong sales potential in both the gift and trade markets. “This is not a multi-million dollar deal,” says Jensen. “There’s a real affinity for what Tom [Peterson, TCC publisher,] does on behalf of books on the list. We’re very excited about it.”

For his part, Peterson is also pleased with the arrangement. “I feel very fortunate to enter into an opportunity with Chronicle,” he says. TCC had licensed many of its books previously, although in the past few years it has begun distributing them directly. “We’re proud of what we do,” he notes. “It’s nice to have our own name on them.” In addition, although Creative Education and the school market has long been the company’s foundation, with the market changing so much, Peterson believes that this is the right time to partner with Chronicle.

As part of the distribution change, TCC is growing its Creative Paperbacks list and will publish 40 new nonfiction paperbacks, which have been adapted for the retail market, at the beginning of 2011. Jensen would also like to see TCC accelerate the number of Creative Editions picture books that go into trade paperback. At present there are only five. At the same time TCC continues to seek strong titles for Creative Editions, including the first picture book based on Ogden Nash’s poem “Heroes of Yesterday,” Line-up for Yesterday, illustrated by C. F. Payne, due in fall 2011.

But Jensen is also interested in developing TCC’s digital potential alongside its own. Chronicle was picked as a publishing partner to develop children’s books for Barnes & Noble’s new NOOK kids for its NOOKcolor. “We’re committed to having six books in the first quarter of 2011,” Jensen says.