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Walker to Invest $7 Million in Candlewick
Judith Rosen -- 5/8/00

Walker Books announced late last month that it would invest £4.5 million (approximately $7 million) in Candlewick Books, its U.S. company based in Cambridge, Mass., over the next four years.

"We had a phenomenal year in 1999, and we're about to do some aggressive growing," Candlewick president and publisher Karen Lotz told PW. "This is a conscious strategic decision." Candlewick, which made up 17% of Walker's sales worldwide in '99, saw its own sales increase 14%, from $19.2 million in 1998 to $21.9 million. As part of the four-year plan, Candlewick aims to increase its sales to $33 million by 2003.

In order to reach that goal, Candlewick will increase the number of books that it originates in the U.S. Currently it publishes 120 to 150 books a year, with about 30 generated in the U.S. "My plans call for up to 90 to 100 U.S.-originated titles a year," said Lotz. "I don't think we would ever do over 100 titles a year, because we would continue to bring in Walker titles. Possibly our total number of titles would rise to 175 to 200 books a year."

Confirming that the eight-year-old company would stay in Cambridge, Lotz noted that a satellite office will open in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the section known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) early this summer. Joan Powers, former editorial director of mass merchandise at Dutton Children's Books, has just been hired as editorial director for novelty and characters in New York. Working with her as editor of novelty books will be Juwanda Ford, who has recently been with Curriculum Concepts in New York City, the New Orleans Jazz Festival and Scholastic.

The two are part of an overall staff increase that will see the total number of employees nearly double by 2003. Candlewick started with eight employees when it opened and now has 58. According to Lotz, "We're adding 14 more in 2000 and 10 to 12 more people in each of the succeeding three years."

In other news, Candlewick swept the entire shortlist for the Kate Greenaway Medal in the U.K. (See Children's Books next week for the complete list.)
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