Joanna Bicknell, former Dorling Kindersley business development director and cofounder of the Priddy Bicknell imprint at St. Martin's, is launching a new children's book publishing house this spring. Make Believe Ideas, based in Berkhamsted, England, will publish 40 to 50 books a year for ages eight and under, starting in April.
The U.K. staff will include a number of former DK executives, while in the U.S., Danny Gurr, former president of DK Publishing Inc. and a director of DK Plc., has signed on as part-time director of U.S. operations. Gurr, who lives in Florida and does retail and publishing consulting, said the books will be "educationally sound, clever and priced for value." All books will originate in the U.K.
Among the titles on the spring list are the first seven releases in the Baby Senses series by Susanna Beaumont, developed in association with early-learning specialists. Scheduled to ship in May, they include the Baby Senses Speech: Look Who's Talking book and DVD (directed by Teletubbies director Sally Ainsworth), as well as individual board books on Hearing and Sight. In April, Make Believe Ideas will introduce its heavily illustrated Shimmer & Shine board book series, with color photographs printed on foil-patterned pages.
Gurr anticipates that MBI will be up to 40 books by the end of 2005. Working with him in the U.S. is president of sales Jeannie Bailey, who was director of mass market sales at DK Publishing and was most recently director of national accounts for Thomas Nelson Publishers. She will coordinate with new U.S. distributor Ingram Publishers Services.