Twenty-five years ago, when Walker U.K. opened a U.S. branch, rather than continue to sell rights to U.S. publishers, it was forced to take a different name on this side of the pond. The name “Walker” was already in use, and Candlewick Press was born. Now Candlewick is poised to begin publishing in the U.S. for the first time under the Walker name.
In fall 2018, Candlewick will introduce its inaugural Walker Books U.S. list. The announcement follows Candlewick’s recent purchase of the Walker trademark from Bloomsbury, which took it when it acquired U.S. indie Walker and Company.
Candlewick president and publisher Karen Lotz, managing director of the Walker Books Group, approached Bloomsbury, following its decision in 2014 to stop using the name and fold Walker Books for Young Readers into Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
“It feels very fitting that we’ve grown up by our 25th year and at the dawn of Walker’s 40th to open up yet another new initiative in the United States, this time under the founding name, bringing the Walker Bear full circle at last,” Lotz said.
“For the past five years in particular,” she continued, “Walker U.K. has grown its success with titles from the U.S. list.” She pointed to their success with American author Jon Klassen, who received a Kate Greenaway medal in 2014, and U.S.-originated series like Timmy Failure and Judy Moody. Leslye Walton’s next Ava Lavender title will have a joint debut in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2018.
But Lotz lamented the fact that up until now Candlewick hasn’t had a chance to benefit in the same way, particularly in the YA area. “The new list,” she said, “will capitalize on the Walker name and reputation.” While it’s too soon to mention specific titles that will appear on the new Walker Books U.S. list, Lotz noted that it will be a place for more commercial titles than Candlewick typically publishes. Not that Candlewick doesn’t continue to publish a number of bestsellers. This summer two books in Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series went back onto the New York Times list in large part because of a summer reading promotion with Target.
The Walker Books U.S. list will include both U.K. and U.S.-originated titles, which will be available in the U.S. and Canada. Where rights allow for domestically originated titles, these books will also travel to the rest of the world. Initially the list will focus on middle-grade and YA fiction and nonfiction. But it will expand to other ages and categories.
Candlewick plans to add three positions, primarily in New York, to help develop and launch the new list. All sales and marketing, as well as production and business function, will be supplied by the current Somerville, Mass.-based Candlewick team.