Christopher Robbins, former Gibbs Smith CEO, has formed his own digital niche publishing company – Familius – that will focus exclusively on books for families, and market its titles to specific core audiences through the Internet, social networking, and web videos in a community-based program.

Robbins told PW he has signed 20 authors and will launch the first Familius titles in June. His core areas of interest for the company are marriage, parenting, and family activities, and he will publish electronically for the iPad, Nook, Kindle, Kobo, and libraries. “Familius will challenge the traditional publishing paradigm,” Robbins says, “by inverting the process and finding writers for readers, rather than readers for writers. We’ll use digital marketing to provide analytics that will help us make publishing decisions, such as which books might eventually make sense in a print format. By complementing the art form of the book this way, Familius will also reduce risks that are inherent in the old publishing paradigm.” The company will pay higher royalties than traditional publishers, and authors will receive monthly checks, but receive no advances.

One of the goals of Familius ( is to improve the reader experience by using multiple mediums. For instance, crafts book signed to the “Family Fun” division of the company will come embedded with how-to videos that can be accessed on YouTube or Vimeo. The videos will be marketed to core audiences in advance of publication to generate interest in each title. Because Familius is so specific in its publishing program, Robbins says that marketing can begin even before a contract is signed. “Familius will be aggregating a community that aligns with future content long before that content is even contracted,” he says. “So by the time a book is ready, we’ll have an established audience who is already interested in that type of content.” The company’s Web site will offer free daily premium "freemium" content.

Robbins, who lives in Utah with his wife Michelle and their nine children, hopes that Familius “will help improve families through learning skill sets. Just as there are best management practices, there are best parenting, marriage, and family relationship practices that can increase potential for happiness.” One of the first books Familius acquired is on parenting “by one of the country’s top storytellers.”

“Gibbs (Smith), one of my most important mentors, taught me that publishing is about acquiring, not about editing,” Robbins says. “I have found my authors the old-fashioned way – through networking. It's called BIC--Butt in Chair, making phone calls and sending e-mails to researched contacts.”