Italian publishing powerhouse De Agostini Publishing is at BookExpo America for the first time as part of its efforts to begin publishing in the U.S. “BEA 2012 is the perfect event to launch the U.S. business, to showcase our product, and to preview the titles that we intend to bring to the market in the second half of 2012 and going into 2013,” says Robin Pearson, editorial director, who will be at BEA in booth 2840, for De Agostini Publishing USA.

De Agostini publishes illustrated books and magazines in 46 countries, and two years ago began exploring the best way “we could reformat our editorial assets for the U.S. market,” explains marketing director James Franks. After a year of interviews and discussions, De Agostini began a product test last year and was encouraged enough by the results to open a New York office, which will be led by Darren Deguire, formerly with Advance Publications. First products include book-plus packages.

De Agostini’s list is aimed heavily at the children’s market, although there are titles and packages for adults as well. One title for adults that De Agostini is bringing to the U.S. is Cake Decorating, a package that includes a cake decorating course as well as the tools to create cakes, which has sold 700,000 units in the U.K. Other strong sellers abroad appearing in the U.S. this year include Real Bugs (books plus preserved insect specimens) and Real Treasures (books with gems and minerals). The Real Bugs and Real Treasures titles are housed in what De Agostini calls Collect-a-Case displays. To date, De Agostini is doing distribution through supermarkets and will use BEA to discuss trade distribution.