Quarto Publishing Group USA, the U.S. publishing arm of the U.K.-based Quarto Group, which is already well known for publishing and distributing illustrated books and other products under more than a dozen imprints, is expanding in a direction that will further enhance its expertise in that area. Quarto USA is moving aggressively into children’s book publishing in 2015 by releasing 176 children’s frontlist titles for both the trade and school/library markets.
The titles will be released under four imprints, up from Quarto USA’s 20 releases in 2014 under the Walter Foster Jr. imprint. Besides Walter Foster Jr., Quarto USA will release children’s books under the Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and QEB Publishing imprints, as well as under its newest imprint, Wide Eyed Editions, which will launch in fall 2015.
“There aren’t many publishers who go from zero to 100 in one year,” Amy Yodanis, Quarto USA marketing director, said. “We’re going from not being a company that you would look at for children’s books to being a serious force in children’s book publishing.”
Marcus Leaver, Quarto Group’s CEO, who is based in London, said that when he assumed his position at Quarto in 2012, he quickly realized that the company was “under strength regarding its weighting” in its children’s portfolio, and that there was a “significant gap” in the unlicensed market. “The key characteristics of children’s books today play to our undoubted strengths in creating products that are highly visual, largely nonfiction, and with very high production values,” he noted, explaining that under his direction, the company immediately invested in pumping up the children’s publishing portfolio.
“Our children’s businesses have grown faster than the overall publishing businesses,” Leaver said, “and now represent just under 20% of the Group’s publishing revenues.”
“We believe children’s books are witnessing a golden age of prosperity in markets we publish into,” Leaver added. “Our established reputation and geographical flexibility place Quarto in a strong position to take advantage of the real growth opportunities enjoyed by children’s publishing.” Quarto Group’s goal, according to Leaver, is that children’s book publishing will make up 25% of the company’s net revenues within the next two or three years. In 2014, Quarto Group’s publishing revenues were approximately $140 million; of that figure, $70 million represented Quarto USA’s publishing revenues.
Walter Foster Jr. releases include activity, craft, and reference books, and kits. Walter Foster Jr. has already launched its Learn to Draw series, and its 2014 release You Can Draw Cartoon Animals, by Christopher Hart, has sold 100,000 copies. In 2015, 45 titles will be released under the Walter Foster Jr. imprint, up from 20 in 2014. Frontlist includes its lead title, 101 Things to Do Before You Grow Up, and the launch of two new series this year. Walter Foster Jr. will also publish licensed titles in its Learn to Draw series, including DreamWorks’ Madagascar and Disney’s Frozen.
On March 1, Quarto USA will also begin distributing stateside children’s books from Quarto’s U.K. publishing division, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, which has been publishing picture books emphasizing cultural diversity since 1983, and from QEB Publishing, launched just over 10 years ago in the U.K. as QED Publishing. Frances Lincoln’s 53 frontlist releases will include Dreams of Freedom: In Words and Pictures, a picture book produced in partnership with Amnesty International that explores the meaning of freedom. QEB, which specializes in educational entertainment for children ages 4–11, will release 67 new nonfiction titles and picture books in 2015, ranging from Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? to 50 Things You Should Know About the Second World War. Quarto will also distribute Frances Lincoln and QEB backlist in the U.S. beginning in March. PGW was their previous U.S. distributor.
Quarto USA’s newest imprint, Wide Eyed Editions, will specialize in curriculum-focused illustrated nonfiction for ages 2–10 with an emphasis on art, geography, and natural history. Wide Eyed launched in the U.K. this past year and will debut in the U.S. in August with 11 titles, including its lead title, The 50 States, a book of maps celebrating the history and culture of the U.S., illustrated by Sol Linero.
Though Wide Eyed’s publisher, Rachel Williams, who also launched Big Picture Press in 2012, is based in the U.K., Wide Eyed Editions releases are being edited stateside for North American audiences. Many of the Wide Eyed authors and illustrators, Williams noted in a telephone interview, are American. “The launch of Wide Eyed Editions is one of Quarto’s most exciting recent ventures,” Ken Fund, president and CEO of Quarto USA, stated in a release. “It heralds our commitment to growing our global presence in children’s publishing.”