The Quarto Group is charting a new course this August with the launch of Wide Eyed Editions, a visually driven nonfiction imprint that will publish 10 titles next season. At the imprint’s creative helm is publisher Rachel Williams, who also became publisher of Quarto’s Frances Lincoln Children’s Books last April. Fittingly, the line’s lead debut title focuses on its new home turf: The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 Fact-Filled Maps!, written by New York-based editor and author Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Argentinian artist Sol Linero.
Wide Eyed Editions’ inaugural list features an international array of authors and illustrators. In addition to The 50 States, releases include Atlas of Adventures, illustrated by London artist Lucy Letherland, which takes a visual tour of the world; Creaturepedia by Swiss artist Adrienne Barman, introducing more than 700 animals from across the globe; The School of Art, a roundup of 50 lessons on how art is made, written by Texas-born Teal Triggs, a professor at the Royal College of Art in London, and illustrated by London-based artist Daniel Frost; and The Wonder Garden, an exploration of five habitats, with text by Quarto Group editorial director Jenny Broom and illustrated by Ireland native Kristjana S. Williams.
The launch list exemplifies Wide Eyed Editions’ name and tagline – “Books that open eyes to a world of wonder” – Williams explained. “The key themes of our list are natural history, art, and geography, and our lead titles for fall represent those genres,” she said. “The Wide Eyed list will focus on books with extraordinary illustration and curriculum-linked topics that can be enjoyed by the whole family. At a time when information can be received in an instant on single-user devices, we want to be part of the ‘slow reading’ movement – the precious time that families spend gathered together reading. Our books provide what the Internet cannot: the chance to pause and absorb a potent cocktail of quality art, design, and information on a single printed page.”
Williams, who started the Big Picture Press list in 2013 (for Templar in the U.K. and Candlewick in the U.S.), plans to split her time between the Quarto Group’s offices in London and New York. In 2016, she will grow the new imprint to an output of 18 titles, aimed at audiences ages 2-10, which will be commissioned, copyedited, and Americanized by a transatlantic team, including Broom in London and Balkan in New York. Williams anticipates that eventually approximately half of the imprint’s releases will originate in the U.S. and half in the U.K., and that the list “will definitely have the feeling of an American list, but with a global perspective.”
With Wide Eyed Editions’ focus on illustration and design, Williams anticipates that the imprint’s books will have appeal in specialty markets as well as in traditional book trade outlets. “These are the sorts of books to buy as gifts and are made to be coveted, cherished objects that provide hours of learning and discussion,” she said. “Many titles on the launch list have sold in up to eight languages ahead of publication, which is encouraging. It’s an exciting time for nonfiction.”
Returning to the name she chose for the new imprint, Williams added that Wide Eyed also provides an acronym indicative of the teamwork this publishing venture involves. “ ‘WE’ stands for how our books are made,” she said. “They are a true collaboration between the artist, author, commissioner, designer, editor, and the sales and marketing teams. All of our books have a team of champions behind them, and that’s why I believe they will shine.”