Sourcebooks recently wrapped up a banner year, with the company reporting a 33% spike in sales in its children’s publishing division in 2018, according to Bookscan, after six of its 65 frontlist releases landed on various national bestseller lists. Not only did four of these titles land on the New York Times children’s bestseller lists the week of December 15, but two of them—P Is for Pterodactyl by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, illustrated by Maria Tina Beddia, with 210,000 units sold to date; and The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen, with 175,000 units sold to date—perched for multiple weeks at the #1 spot on the picture book bestsellers and the middle grade hardcover bestsellers lists, respectively.
“Our children’s business has grown immensely over the past several years,” publisher Dominique Raccah said in a release. “Twelve years ago, we published our first children’s book [Poetry Speaks to Children, edited by Elise Paschen, illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen], and today we are the 12th largest children’s publisher in the country.” At the end of 2018, children’s books accounted for 53% of the company’s business.
To more efficiently serve the children’s market, Sourcebooks announced today that the company, headquartered in Naperville, Ill., is launching three imprints under a Sourcebooks Kids umbrella: Sourcebooks Wonderland, Sourcebooks Young Readers, and Sourcebooks eXplore. YA fiction and nonfiction has been published under the Sourcebooks Fire imprint since it launched in 2010, three years after the Jabberwocky launch.
“Everything we were doing was under the Jabberwocky imprint, and all of these books have such different styles,” editorial director Todd Stocke told PW. "It makes sense for them to be together, but they all needed their own identities. So we split out the books for young readers, middle grade, and the proprietary products. Fundamentally, the Jabberwocky imprint goes forward in picture books, board, and chapter books. Young Readers encompasses middle grade fiction and nonfiction. eXplore does younger kids’ nonfiction. And Wonderland covers licensed, customized, and regional products."
While Stocke noted that “children’s is just a rocket ship” in terms of sales, the adult books published under five of the company’s imprints are also peaking, particularly in the nonfiction, fiction, and romance categories. “For the children’s to outstrip those [categories],” he said, “it’s pretty remarkable.”
Wonderland’s list will include its How to Catch series of books for ages 3-7 by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton, which has sold more than 2.5 million units to date; Welcome Little One by Sandra Magsamen, which was released three years ago, but is an evergreen bestseller that sold more than 200,000 copies in 2018; and the regional publishing program that features holiday titles customized to different cities and states—such as Santa Is Coming to [Chicago], Halloween Scare in [Chicago], and Tiny the [Chicago] Easter Bunny. The holiday-themed regional titles have sold a total of more than five million units.
Wonderland will be headed by Nicky Benson, publishing manager of customized and proprietary content, who previously served as director of product management at Readerlink, and Karen Shapiro, currently publishing manager of the Sourcebooks entertainment group, who created the How to Catch series.
Young Readers, the middle grade imprint, will be headed by editorial director Steve Geck, while Sourcebooks eXplore, the new nonfiction line, will be headed by editorial director Kelly Barrales-Saylor. The two imprints will complement Sourcebooks’ flagship children’s imprint, Jabberwocky, which was launched in 2007, and the Little Pickle Press line of nonfiction picture books for children up to age 10 and fiction for readers ages nine to 14. Sourcebooks acquired Little Pickle Press in 2017.
“This has been a really pivotal year for us, and I’m incredibly excited to build on the success we’ve already created,” said Heather Moore, director of marketing for Sourcebooks Kids. Two new employees will report to Moore. Mallory Hyde has been hired as marketing specialist for children’s books, and Jaclyn Puccini as social media specialist for the YA imprint, Sourcebooks Fire. Sourcebooks has 135 employees; about 25 of those are dedicated employees in Sourcebooks Kids, including 10 acquisitions editors.