By Dennis Abrams
In March of 2011, Abrams announced the launch of Appleseed Books, its third imprint dedicated to children’s books. Led by publishing director Cecily Kaiser, the imprint will publish eight to 12 titles per season, aimed at children up to age five. “The Appleseed list will be commercially appealing with the added plus of the trademark Abrams aesthetic,” said Kaiser in a statement announcing the new imprint. “Even the youngest children deserve beautiful books. And when beauty is presented in a relevant and engaging way, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians will get on board too.”
And as if to prove the point, Abrams Appleseed has now signed a license with the Pantone brand for a series of concept books about color.
“Within this age group, colors is a bestselling concept, so I knew our list had to include a colors book,” said Kaiser. “Marry that with who Abrams is, very art and design-driven, and it had to be the color book.” She added that “Pantone’s really the only game in town when it comes to color. There are just so many color books out there, we wanted to be sure what we did was different and an improvement on the other books.”
For Pantone, the timing was fortuitous. The company, has, in recent years, been increasing its consumer licensing efforts beyond the professional design market, and had been looking into both publishing and children’s products as areas of potential growth. In that vein, Pantone: The 20th Century in Color was published in October by Chronicle.
Lisa Herbert, VP of Pantone’s fashion, home, and consumer division (her father invented the Pantone system in 1963) feels the partnership between Abrams and Appleseed is a good pairing. “Abrams has a reputation for art and design publishing, which gave us confidence that the aesthetic and design of this product would be something Pantone would be proud of.”
Set to debut in March 2012, each spread of the partnership’s first title, Pantone: Colors, will feature an illustration of a familiar image for pre-schoolers, such as a frog, for example, on one page and an array of Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors in the same range (in the case of the frog, greens) on the other. According to Abrams, “By experiencing each of the colors as an image, then as shades, children are introduced to the concept that one color name can mean many different things in a dynamic way that will thrill parents, educators, and designers.”
Kaiser is committed to doing one Pantone book per season, ranging from picture books to novelty titles, at a variety of price points. “It’s fast becoming an in-house favorite,” she said of Pantone: Colors. “It’s so visceral, bright and bold, and you just want to hold it and own it.”
In addition to publishing Pantone-themed titles, Appleseed will incorporate Little Pim, the video-based language-learning property. Abrams also expects to be able to translate several existing Abrams franchises to the pre-school set, commissioning established Abrams authors to do their first books for the youngest readers.