“Keep Boys Reading!” is the tag line of Enslow Publishers’ Speeding Star imprint, which launches September 1 with three series aimed at grabbing – and holding – the attention of boy readers ages nine to 14. Founded in 1976, the Berkeley Heights, N.J.-based company publishes some 225 books annually, targeted primarily to the educational market. With Speeding Star and a second new imprint, Scarlet Voyage, due in January 2014, Enslow is paving a new path, incorporating more fiction into its list and edging into the trade market.

“Enslow has always published category books for reluctant readers, books with high interest levels but slightly lower reading levels,” says president Mark Enslow. “[For the new imprint] we’ve focused on books that boys would not be forced to read about but would pick up themselves – books on sports topics, disasters, and some gross and yucky books. Over the past five years, we’ve surveyed our customers, largely school and public libraries, and asked them if they are having trouble getting their boys to read. They almost universally answered ‘yes.’ So we decided to create a new imprint to address that problem.”

Speeding Star will release 18–24 titles annually. Launching the imprint are the six-volume Hall of Fame Sports Greats, profiling Hall of Famers in various sports, among them Carl Ripken, Jr. and Deion Sanders by Glen Macnow and Michael Jordan by Nathan Aaseng; Fast Wheels!, a six-book series that includes Smokin’ Dragsters and Funny Cars by Jim Gigliotti and Smokin’ Motorcycles by Bob Woods,; and Zombie Zappers by Nadia Higgins, four novels about boys who thwart zombie outbreaks.

Of the last, Enslow said, “These are mysteries about zombies and they have humor and gross aspects. But we are sensitive to people’s concerns about violence and racy material, so the books are very safe for this audience and appropriate for even our more conservative markets.” Author Higgins notes that, in addition to the zombie action, each novel “explores a theme about relationships: what does if feel like when your best friend gets another good friend? What about when a friend takes credit for your work? How does it feel to be left out?”

While most Enslow books have side-sewn library bindings and price points in the $23 range, Speeding Star titles will have trade bindings, $13.95 or $14.95 hardcover prices, and a slightly smaller trim size. The books will initially be available in hardcover and e-book editions, with trade paperbacks to follow a year later.

“We’re hoping to sell the books into some new markets for us, specifically consumer online markets, while continuing to hit our key school and public library market,” Enslow said. “We’d like to try to get the books into independent bookstores, though that will be an ongoing learning process for us. Our immediate mission is to create content that appeals to boys and keeps them reading.”

Another Novel Direction

“New Story. New Voice. New Voyage” heralds Enslow’s announcement of Scarlet Voyage, a YA fiction imprint that will encompass many genres, from literary fiction to contemporary romances to crime thrillers. Scarlet Voyage will release about a dozen titles each year. These books, too, will feature trade bindings and be available as hardcovers, e-books, and eventually trade paperbacks. The imprint is a departure for the company in that it will comprise standalone novels rather than series.

Scarlet Voyage’s inaugural list consists exclusively of imports from England, Germany, and Australia, and future lists will balance imports with novels originating in the U.S. The launch titles are Paint Me a Monster by Janie Baskin, Marlene Röder’s In the River Darkness, Freak City by Kathrin Schrocke, Spirit of a Mountain Wolf by Roseanne Hawke, Natasha Farrant’s What We Did for Love, and Code Name Komiko by Naomi Paul.

“We strive to publish books that express Enslow’s independent spirit,” says acquisitions editor Ben Rosenthal of the new imprint. “Our first list features debut YA authors and novels in translation, showing our commitment to fostering authors and books that offer diverse perspectives.”

Enslow has no plans to increase its eight-person editorial staff with the addition of Speeding Star and Scarlet Voyage. “Our editors are very excited to be getting into these new areas and to be working on fiction, since we’ve published nonfiction for so many decades,” says Enslow. “We are all having quite a good time with these new imprints.”