The UK’s Nosy Crow Opens a US Company

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The 12-year-old English powerhouse in independent children’s publishing is distributed in the States by Hachette Book Group.

Kate Wilson, managing director of Nosy Crow, at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2021. In the 2022 edition of the trade show at Frankfurt, Nosy Crow’s stand will be in Hall 6.1, booth B16. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Roger Tagholm

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Also in children’s books today:
US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Young People’s Literature

First US List Is To Be Out in May
Announced today (September 14), Kate Wilson‘s Nosy Crow in London is to launch Nosy Crow Inc., a United States-based company, in 2023.

News of the plan is being touted by Hachette Book Group, the American division of Lagardère’s Hachette Livre: The company’s list—which in the States is to feature the complete range of formats for ages 12 and younger used in the British company’s success—will be sold and distributed by Hachette Book Group, effective immediately.

In the UK, Nosy Crow has been widely recognized for working in digital as well as print formats, frequently testing products that some in the industry assumed that parents and their young readers would resist. What’s more, the company is hardly a novice when it comes to international commerce.

When Publishing Perspectives moderated a panel of CEOs including Nosy Crow’s Kate Wilson at London Book Fair this year in April, she said, “From a business perspective, 66 percent of Nosy Crow’s revenue last year came from outside the UK.” She went on to make an impassioned testimonial to the importance of the world book industry’s live, in-person trade shows, likening the experience of returning to international book fair business to Washington Irving’s 1819 Rip Van Winkle.

Wilson, in fact, counted London Book Fair as her “third shot” at a pandemic-era trade show, having started at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2021, then gone to Bologna Children’s Book Fair–where she was waylaid by a case of COVID-19 before she could even reach Bologna Fiere, the fairgrounds. This year, Nosy Crow’s stand can be found at Frankfurt (October 19 to 23) in Hall 6.1, B16.

Before the end of her London commentary, Wilson had the London audience in stitches, demonstrating how she had learned to explain the size of a Nosy Crow children’s book by holding it up in a Zoom session for others on the call to see: “It’s this size, you see, relative to my head.”

With a repeated mantra, “We need to talk,” Wilson also signaled the mounting difficulties of printing and supply-chain inconsistencies, saying, “We wake up in a world now with a new focus on sustainability. Printing in Asia is a big issue for us as children’s publishers. How do we manage to think about printing in Asia vs. printing in Europe, where freight, if you’re shipping by truck, actually offsets a lot of the costs of printing in Europe, relative to the cost of printing in Asia.

“The costs of paper is rocketing,” Wilson said. “The delays associated with freight are extraordinary. … Where do we print? What do we print? What do we print on at all?”

Wilson: ‘Time to Spread Our Wings’

It would seem that Wilson and her group have found at least one answer to that in the American market, and has jumped ahead of the company’s appearance among more than 4,000 exhibitors at Frankfurt.

Kate Wilson

We’re so excited about this new venture,” she says in a comment prepared for today’s news. “As a publishing company creating books that are published  around the world, this feels like such a natural extension of our publishing. We’re hugely grateful to the US  publishers, particularly our long-time partner, Candlewick Press, who have been such amazing supporters of  Nosy Crow’s full-color books in the first decade of our existence.  

“But we feel it’s now time to spread our wings and engage directly with the amazing and very different market  that is North America.

John Mendelson

“We look forward to bringing our great books, our reputation for sustainability, and our  commitment to diversity and inclusivity to this vibrant market with a new company under the leadership of  John Mendelson, whose customer focus combined with an intelligent engagement with books, authors and  illustrators is unparalleled.”

Indeed, Mendelson, formerly senior vice-president of sales at Candlewick Press, is becoming president of the new Stateside Nosy Crow venture.

He talks today of “building a varied, commercially powerful, creatively distinct and fully Americanized list. Our first year of publishing will showcase 30 amazing books from illustrators and authors  that will reach a wide audience across North America. Over the next few years, we’ll add chapter books and middle-grade fiction and we’ll originate books in North America too, featuring art and words from a diverse  group of creators.”

Todd McGarity

Todd McGarity, Hachette’s vice-president of corporate business development and strategy is also quoted today, saying, “We’re thrilled to welcome award-winning children’s publisher Nosy Crow Inc. to our Hachette Client Services  family of clients.

“For the last 10 years, they’ve really made their mark in the UK, and I’m excited to see how we can help them build upon Nosy Crow UK’s impressive track record of success here in North America.” 

Existing Rights Sales Stay With Publishers

Over the years, Nosy Crow has sold North American rights to many  properties, and those titles will continue to be sold by their existing US publishers. Today’s information stresses that this is particularly true of Candlewick Press, “which has brilliantly published, using the Nosy Crow imprint,  many of Nosy Crow UK’s board book series and character-based picture books. Candlewick will  continue to publish new titles in these series, but, in the future, without the Nosy Crow imprint.”

Expect the American Nosy Crow to present a summer list in May. It’s to include picture books Frank and Bert by Chris Naylor Ballesteros; How to Count to One by Caspar Salmon and Matt Hunt Novak; and Everything Possible, based on a song and illustrated by Alison Brown.

The board book list will include the first books in the Look It’s… series by Camilla Reid and Clare Youngs felt flaps and foil on every spread.

The nonfiction list will include Welcome to Our Table,  by Moira Butterfield and Harriet Lynas. 

Nosy Crow Inc. will also bring Nosy Crow’s Stories Aloud audio program to the North American market for the first time.

All of Nosy Crow Inc.’s board and picture books will feature free, downloadable audio recordings, so that children and families can listen to the books wherever and whenever they want. 

James Daunt

And James Daunt, CEO of the United States’ Barnes & Noble and managing director of the United Kingdom’s Waterstones, gets in a word of support for Nosy Crow and its new move. He’s quoted, saying, “Over the years, Nosy Crow has been a phenomenal partner to Waterstones in the UK.

“We look forward to  more of their magic here in the States and wish them the very best of luck.” 

An Awards Pace-Setter

Nosy Crow is among the most frequent award-winners in the children’s and independent publishing sectors in the United Kingdom. That’s a very significant point in a market as saturated with book and publishing prize programs as British publishing is today. Often envied by book-business colleagues, Kate Wilson and her team have become a reliable fixture in the winners’ columns at some of the most influential and highest-profile awards regimes in the UK

Having opened operations in 2011, the company was named Children’s Publisher of the Year in both 2017 and 2019—and Independent Publisher of the Year in 2020—in the British Book Awards, which are produced, of course, by The Bookseller with one of the broadest and most comprehensive sets of industry categories in the business.

Nosy Crow was also awarded the Independent Publishers Guild’s overall Independent Publisher of the Year twice—in 2016 and 2021. It has also won the IPG’s Children’s Publisher of the Year six times. That’s not a typo. And the UK is almost as densely inhabited by children’s publishers competing for those awards as it is by the awards programs themselves.

Other prizes  include the Stationers’ Company Innovation Excellence Award, the Nectar Business Small Business of the  Year Award, the Growing Business Awards Young Company of the Year Award, and many others for  individual titles and releases. Nosy Crow has also been shortlisted for the IPG’s Sustainability Award and Diversity and Inclusivity Award and has put a great deal of energy into issues of diversity and inclusivity for youngsters in its catalogues–something sure to go down well among consumers in the cultural-issue-sensitive demographics of the US consumer base. 

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 162nd report on awards-related news published in the 170 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

More from Publishing Perspectives on Nosy Crow is here, more on Kate Wilson is here, more on Hachette Book Group is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on children’s books is here, more on the United Kingdom’s market is here, and more on the American market into which Nosy Crow is moving is here. More on the many book and publishing awards in the international industry is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.