With its 10th anniversary only a few months away, Good Night Books, the board book publishing house developed by author Adam Gamble, has already passed two significant milestones. It has published more than 100 titles in its Good Night series and, as of September, it has sold more than three million books.
Not bad for a small press built on the bedtime stories Gamble told his young daughter. Her reaction inspired him to publish Good Night Boston and Good Night Cape Cod through On Cape Publications, the press he founded in 1997 to publish regional books, including his own, In the Footsteps of Thoreau. After the successful launch of the two New England board books, Gamble created a separate company, which was renamed Good Night Books at the beginning of this year.“They’re not War and Peace,” Gamble acknowledges. “But a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into the books to make sure they’re authentic and charming.” And they take a different approach to kid-friendly topics by being more inclusive, according to Good Night Books marketing director and author Mark Jasper. For example, Good Night Farm, he notes, includes bee farms and cranberry bogs, in addition to standard farms. The recently published Good Night Trains, he adds, has subway trains not just long-distance passenger or freight trains.
Some of Gamble’s favorite titles aren’t about specific places, like Good Night Galaxy and Good Night Dinosaur, in which he simplifies complex subjects. As with all the books in the Good Night series, the stories incorporate positive greetings intended to teach children to be courteous: “It’s nice to see you,” “good morning,” and “good night.”
Some of the bestselling Good Night books feature big cities, including New York, Boston, Washington, Seattle, and Philadelphia, where the Rittenhouse Hotel puts a copy on the bed at turndown for families traveling with young children. “There are some surprises,” says Gamble. “Michigan is right behind New York City in popularity.”
Good Night Books are available in gift shops for the U.S. Senate and the United Nations, Barney’s, and bookstores like Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Mass., which was one of several independents that supported the press from its start. “We’ve been selling about 170 copies ever year, and that’s been going on for nine years,” says Eight Cousins owner Carol Chittenden, who places the books in the local interest section right inside the door. “Obviously we do well with Good Night Cape Cod. We also sell a lot of others: Good Night World, Good Night Beach, and Good Night Boston. I think it speaks to something independent bookstores have to offer—the experience of a place.”
From Regional Strength to National Success
“Good Night Books is a wonderful success story,” says Mark Suchomel, president of Legato Publishers Group. “Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper get all the credit for making it work. From day one Adam understood that our relationship was a partnership, and he would try to do extra things such as offer introductory specials and produce high-quality displays to make sure we were successful selling to accounts and his books stood out. The bigger the stack, the more they sell. We cannot oversell these books.”
In recent years Gamble has expanded Good Night’s categories to include dump trucks, the zoo, and even baby Jesus. Several titles are available in Spanish, and Gamble would like to do some bilingual titles in English and French for cities like Montreal. The Good Night series already includes international destinations, such as Canada and Israel. In 2015, Gamble plans to add England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Two years ago Gamble tested a second series, Count to Sleep. Sixteen titles are being reissued in expanded editions this fall. “When [Count to Sleep] first came out,” says Gamble, “the books were 10 pages at $4.95. We got feedback that booksellers really wanted something at a higher price point. We listen closely to booksellers.” The reissued books now have double the number of pages and are priced at $7.95. It’s too early to know how these stories, which are also rooted in places from Maine to Texas, will do.
But for Gamble, the work on both series continues to be rewarding. As he says, “We feel a passion to celebrate New England and Cape Cod and to celebrate around the world—and to be part of that at bedtime.”