As the High Street’s bookshop windows flare with fairy lights, Nosy Crow’s Kate Wilson could be a publishing executive chanting her best incantation for good holiday sales: "The Bear and the Hare; Flip Flap Farm; Bizzy Bear;Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake Off!”
Those titles—alliteration, rhyme, and all-are the stuff young readers’ dreams are made on, especially at this time of year. And in our #PorterMeets live Twitter interview with Wilson, we had a chance to congratulate Wilson on Nosy Crow having just celebrated a third anniversary in producing award-winning children’s literature:
Among this London-based independent house’s most recent honours is The Bookseller’s own 2013 FutureBook Innovation Award for Best Children’s Digital Book, Rounds: Parker Penguin. In announcing the prize on 21st November, Bookseller conference and community manager Alice Ryan noted that judges were impressed by the app (the second in Nosy Crow’s “Rounds” series) for its “addictive” sliding feature, and its trademark interaction that brings a reader full-circle in the story of an animal’s life.
Whether by app or in print, a hallmark of Wilson’s approach with her team is a fundamental appreciation for the artistry with which they work, the contributions of authors, editors, designers and developers:
That pleasure in creativity figures into Wilson’s pride in this year’s The Bear and the Hare Nosy Crow picture book for John Lewis, The Bear Who Had Never Seen Christmas. In this year’s title based on the John Lewis 2013 Christmas advert, Wilson says there was a longer lead time for production than for their first outing last year.
“The second time around, we all really enjoyed the challenge,” she says. In these projects, Wilson draws on her 25 years’ experience in publishing, including as m.d. with Macmillan Children’s Books and group m.d. for Scholastic UK: she’s no stranger to what she now describes in the John Lewis assignment as working with “such defined briefs” and “managing multiple stakeholder expectations".
Granted, this year’s project may have “gone in a bit of a blur,” having revved into high gear only near the end of September, but this time, “We didn’t have to scrape together screenshots,” she says. “We had specially created art and design time. And we could choose higher-quality paper. Last year, we had to take what was left.” The result?
During our interview, we had a question from creative writing executive Kristen Harrison demonstrating the high regard the industry has come to hold for Nosy Crow’s knack with kids and books:
“Any book that helps a child form the habit of reading,” Wilson said in response, is “good for him, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs.” She added a note to Harrison at the creative writing agency The Curved House, which is just launching its own Curved House Kids division:
Some observers in the industry have noted that parents seem slower in some cases to adopt digital reading for children, preferring to maintain print books as their prime medium. Nosy Crow being noted for the quality and ingenuity of its apps for children in particular, I asked Wilson about the issue.
She said that while print books will sell best during the holiday buying season, apps tend to have their day in January, when families want to load Christmas-present devices with good reading for the kids. And she reminded me that it’s early days for apps, in particular: “I think we need to remember that the iPad launched in May 2010.”
Wilson was complimented during our chat, too, by children’s writer Helen Dineen, who blogs about iPad story apps for children. Dineen raised the point that, especially in the children’s market, reading today is vying for its place in a crowded field of digital entertainment:
And as so many of our great publishing companies look this Christmas for their best paths into 2014, The Bookseller’s Philip Jones wanted to know from Wilson what a larger house might learn from the scrappy success of Nosy Crow’s first three years.
Wilson conceded that size does matter:
But a certain singularity of purpose may, at heart, be what’s putting such an impressive bow on this publisher’s season:
And next time #PorterMeets Kate Wilson, she may be a tougher interview – I think she’s taking lessons from the other side of the news:
That #portermeets was interestingly stressful.Feel shd have been like politician & had doc of soundbites 2 cut & paste from regardless of qs— Nosy Crow (@NosyCrow) December 16, 2013
Actually, you did beautifully, Kate. Happy Christmas.
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