Epic, the digital reading platform and library for kids, is teaming up with Andrews McMeel Publishing, home to Big Nate and Calvin & Hobbes, to produce a line of children’s books. Under the new arrangement, AMP will publish print editions of Epic Originals digital books, a content line that Epic debuted in March.
This print venture broadens the scope of an already fruitful relationship between the two companies. AMP titles have been a part of the Epic platform since its launch in 2014, and 150 AMP titles are currently available to Epic users. For AMP president and publisher Kirsty Melville, creating additional roads to content for young readers was a key factor in pursuing the new program. Soon after the Epic Originals launch earlier this year, she suggested the print partnership to Epic cofounder Kevin Donahue. “We have always believed in Epic’s mission to encourage reading and learning through digital access,” Melville said. “When we learned about the Epic Originals program, we jumped at the opportunity to work with their creative team and approached them about expanding the reach of their stories into print. Books should be available to kids in every format possible: digital, audio and print.”
Donahue agrees that it’s a good fit. “We knew immediately that Andrews McMeel was the perfect partner to bring Epic Originals to the printed page,” he said. “We have long admired the quality of the books published by AMP. Their focus on best-in-class graphics is a home run for our comics and highly illustrated books.”
AMP will release the first five titles in the fall, with chapter books My Pet Slime by Courtney Sheinmel, illustrated by Renée Kurilla; The Secret of Shadow Lake (Creature Campers Book 1) by Joe McGee, illustrated by Bea Tormo; Problem at the Playground (Undersea Mystery Club Book 1) by Courtney Carbone, illustrated by Melanie Demmer, and Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw by Gina Loveless, illustrated by Andrea Bell, arriving in September; and board book Cinderella Rex (Once Before Time Book 1) by Christy Webster, illustrated by Holly Hatam, publishing later in the season. The line will continue to expand into 2020 with additional releases each season. Going forward, Donahue says the majority of Epic Originals titles will be released in print shortly after their digital release on the platform, though “there are a few that will remain digital only.”
Out of the gate, the Epic Originals digital books have racked up more than eight million reads by kids using the platform. One of the most popular titles, My Pet Slime, was read more than a million times in an eight-week window.