Breakfast & Learn – Co-Editions

Today, Schmegan and I gave our Breakfast & Learn presentation for the interns. Breakfast & Learn, though it’s more commonly known as Lunch & Learn, is a chance for our interns (and anyone else, really) to learn about all areas of publishing. Since I’m always saying – well what we do is co-editions and that’s different than traditional publishing – and never really explaining what that means, I figured I’d take this Breakfast & Learn opportunity to tell you what my world is like on a daily basis. So pour some syrup on those pancakes and let’s learn some shit!What I do, in a nutshell: We re-purpose/reformat existing material, bringing in great books at value prices (the economy!) that are exclusive to, you know, that retail chain.

Acquiring: We meet with vendors from all over the world a few times a year, in the office and at book fairs. It’s more straight forward with International vendors – we are seeking exclusive US rights for a particular format. With Domestic vendors it’s a little trickier – we are still seeking exclusive rights, but it’s usually for a special edition and the book will maintain the imprint of the original publisher. At the meetings, the vendors will show us their newest line or books they’ve found in their backlists that might interest us. We request samples and pricing based on the format(s) that we’d like. For example, we could see a cute picture book that we think would be better suited as a board book. The vendor provides us pricing on a board book at the quantities we request and, hopefully, at the unit cost that we need to make our margins.

Deal Making: We have very tight margins. As in, make our margin or die. As in, if you give me a price that’s even one penny higher than what I told you I needed, you either a) bring it down one penny and stop arguing with me or b) hit the road Jack (and don’tcha come back no more). When the pricing works (and the pricing MUST work before we present to the retail buyer. We don’t go back and adjust P&Ls or anything like that. Pricing includes cost of manufacture, cost to pay your artist/author, cost for safety testing, cost for cover changes and extra elements) we bring the books in front of our buyer and a bunch of other fun editorial people. It’s ultimately up to our buyer and so whatever s\he says yes to moves on to the next stage in the process.

Editorial: The vendor (publisher) is responsible for the files, printing and the shipping. We touch every aspect of every book we do, but we are still fairly hands off. This is because of the sheer volume of books my imprint prints each year, which is usually well over 500 (reprints included). We couldn’t possibly be wholly responsible for that many titles! I mean, we’re awesome, but. We aren’t super lady heroes. Still – we do minor editing of interiors, route and approve covers, approve blue lines and give final approval to print and ship based on advance copies. I also have the wonderful task of tracking all of our books – making sure the books have been booked on a boat and are going to hit our warehouse on time (as well as making sure that we’ve seen covers, interiors, advances, etc when we are supposed to). Each week, I’m checking the progress of at least 300 titles.

Our Books: We create really great stuff, mostly for preschool aged children, but our non-fiction stretches up to about age 9. Our lowest price point includes mainly picture books and board books, with some lower page count non-fiction and activity books. Our next price point includes anything novelty – pop-ups, disappearing elements and heftier non-fiction and activity. The highest price point we do includes kits and seriously hefty non-fiction. I’m talking encyclopedia type stuff for older kids.

And that’s basically it! Questions?

Pancakes! (are delicious)
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