Peachtree Publishers has announced that Trustbridge Global Media has acquired the Atlanta-based children’s publishing company, as of November 7. Moving forward, the publisher will be known as Peachtree Publishing Company Inc. Founded in 1977, Peachtree publishes children’s books spanning from board books and picture books to middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. Peachtree also maintains a backlist of adult titles, with an emphasis on Southern authors. Trustbridge Global Media is an affiliate of Trustbridge Partners, a Shanghai-based private equity and venture capital firm.
According to Peachtree president and publisher Margaret Quinlin, the acquisition was roughly two years in the making. Quinlin first met Steve Kent, a partner at Trustbridge, during a lunch with former Holiday House owner John Briggs, who later sold the company to Trustbridge in 2016. At the time of the meeting, Quinlin said, “The idea of selling the company was the farthest thing from my mind. I love what we are doing, and these past years have been our most successful to date, in terms of the quality of books, the reviews we’ve been receiving, and the substantial increase in sales.”
But over time, she said, the discussion “planted the seed for me. I talked to a couple of my colleagues here, and it seemed that maybe this was a good time to consider this. For me, one of the key things is the idea that I could forward-proof the company. I want Peachtree to survive beyond me, and to continue to grow and create great books.”
Quinlin said what convinced her to move ahead with the deal was that Trustbridge “wanted us to continue doing what we do at Peachtree.” Quinlin, who has owned Peachtree since 1990, will continue in her role as president and publisher. All of the publisher’s staff will remain onboard, in their current functions. Peachtree will remain in its Atlanta offices, and the company will continue to handle its own fulfillment and distribution—assisted by its network of independent book rep groups throughout the U.S. and Canada. One immediate change, however, is that the publisher will no longer be female-owned. “It was a big decision,” Quinlin said, “but we’re still female-operated.”
As Peachtree celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017, Quinlin said, “We spent time thinking about what makes Peachtree different. We came up with the tagline ‘rooted in relationships, grown with care.’ Part of this is scale: we have this closeness with our books, even with what goes to the customers. We don’t want to lose that; our core values are not changing.”
Quinlin cited Holiday House as the “best model” for what she expects the publishing operations to look like under Trustbridge. She said, “Trustbridge is interested in our editorial decisions to the extent that they can learn about titles that are potential properties for film or animation. I think they’re keen to expand children’s content into other areas.” Down the road, she said, “We may have to expand our warehouse. But for right now, everything is staying the way it is. One of the first orders of business, once the transition occurs, will be hiring editors and editorial support.”
Though Quinlin told PW there are no current plans for broadening the list, “It’s not out of the question,” she said. “We’re going to continue evaluating all the areas we’ve been publishing into, and where we can expand some categories—that will be a function of the new talent we encounter.” She added, “It will be nice to be able to focus on publishing. We now have advice and funding to support expansion.”
Above all, Quinlin said she is looking forward to growing the company. "First and foremost is always the books; that’s why we’re here, and that’s what we’re all dedicated to. There are really talented people here, and I am excited there are opportunities for them, and for our authors and illustrators. I’m going into this with a great deal of optimism. And, if we are able to grow, Atlanta could become more of a publishing spot.”