After conducting focus groups with teachers, librarians, parents and kids, 19-year-old Storey Publishing in North Adams, Mass., is adding its first children's line, Storey Kids, which will publish nonfiction books aimed at middle-grade readers. Storey president Pam Art said that the company will publish illustrated books with "real, true information," at the request of the younger members of the focus groups.
"We had already been thinking about this before Workman acquired Storey last year," Art told PW. "Storey Kids is a very nice complement with the Workman line. It's another spoke in the Workman publishing wheel." For Art, the decision to focus on kids between the ages of eight and 12 was an easy one. "There's lots of great fiction for the middle grades," she said, "but there's not as much going on in nature and science."
Acquisitions editor Deborah Burns, who has one child in the target age range, regards Rick Mikula's The Family Butterfly Book (2000), for grades five and up, as a turning point in starting Storey Kids. "We realized that we could do children's books in the categories that are strongest for us," she said, such as horse care, gardening, nature and crafts. As Burns sees it, the biggest challenge facing Storey is getting the right ratio between art, graphics and text. "Every page has to grab kids, so they'll want to turn the page," she said.
Storey plans to keep the children's list small, and will publish three books a season, or six books a year, simultaneously in hardcover and trade paper. "We have ideas planned out for five years; for some of the titles we have authors lined up," said COO and v-p of sales and marketing Dan Reynolds. "The books are not going to be the same trim size. It's not going to be a cookie-cutter approach."
Reynolds has been pleased with the response to the list since it was introduced earlier this year at BEA and ALA. "People have come up to us and said this is a natural extension of what you do," he said. "Scholastic Book Fair and the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club have picked the books up better than expected. The library market has been excited, and trade is coming in nicely." In fact, the house has upped its initial print runs. Cherry Hill's Horse Care for Kids (Sept.) will now start off with a 50,000-copy first printing in paperback, and Raptor! A Kid's Guide to Birds of Prey by Christyna and René Laubach and Charles W.G. Smith (Sept.) will launch with 25,000 copies. An additional 4,000—6,000 copies will also be printed in hardcover. The print run has not been set yet for the third book on the fall list, Henry Art and Michael Robbins's WoodsWalk: Peepers, Pikas, and Exploding Puffballs (Feb.).
To give the books a boost, Storey plans author tours for Raptor! and WoodsWalk. "We're definitely spending a lot on co-op with booksellers," said Reynolds. "The orders are significant enough at both chains that the books will be merchandised." In addition, Storey will take a separate booth at its local regional trade show, NEBA, where it will give away finished books. To help get kids connected to these new titles, Storey recently launched www.storeykids.com. Later this summer, Storey plans to add more games and activities to the site, along with downloadable screensavers.