Peeko Press, a publisher of illustrated hardcover storybooks, is making its debut at BEA this week, where it will introduce its first four titles. In addition, the new house has hired Matt Gildea, formerly of Bendon Publishing and Hasbro, as its president. Peeko Press’s founders are CEO Jeffrey Conrad, who in the past headed up American Greetings’ consumer products division, and publisher Brandon Henderson, who previously served as executive editor at Overstock.com.
The new company’s mission is to create great content that fosters imagination, according to Gildea. Conrad wrote and illustrated three of the initial list of 8x8 storybooks, A Good Day to Float, Monster’s New Hat, and Scoot Over, while Bradley Knickerbocker created the fourth title, This Is Murray. After the debut of the first list in September, the plan is to release four more titles next February and another four in September 2017. Although Conrad will continue to write more titles, the press will consider books from new and established children’s authors as well.
Distribution will be in all channels, from trade and specialty stores to mass merchants and e-commerce. “Wherever Mom is, that’s where we want to be,” says Gildea.
Both Gildea and Conrad come out of the world of licensing and will continue to manage licensed brands separately—Conrad is the licensing agent for the kids’ computer game Animal Jam, for example—in addition to heading up Peeko Press. But Peeko’s goal is to build a list of proprietary titles. “We want to build our own creative library and not rely on outside brands,” Gildea explains.
Peeko Press is based in Salt Lake City, with Gildea working from Ohio.