Andrews McMeel's Strategy: Building 'Bench Depth'
Making a Move for Children's Books
Another core segment for Andrews McMeel is children's books. The company brought on Linda Jones, a former senior vice president of merchandising for Borders, in November 2009 as senior vice president to head up its children's book publishing division, Accord—which AMP acquired four years ago, another example of its diversification efforts—and the calendar and greeting card divisions.
Jones has plans to aggressively grow the company's children's book publishing arm, she says. "Our age-range sweet spot is 2 to 8 years old."
Among its most well-known titles are the best-selling "Ten Little Dinosaurs" and "Bee & Me"—the first in a new line of "green" books—which became a New York Times best-seller in early 2009.
"Bee & Me" was also the first title to feature Accord's new AniMotion "panels," a patent-pending "paper technology" that essentially takes traditional animation and renders it in print form in "animated windows" within the illustrations, making certain images appear to move within the page. (View a video about the book with an example of AniMotion at AndrewsMcmeel.com/press_releases/bee.html.)
On deck for 2010 are more AniMotion books, a magnetic puzzle book and a new "magnifying mystery" book (packaged with a working magnifier), says Jones.
Like the company's cookbook and gift book segments, Accord will "expand on existing concepts," says Jones, building bench depth in its strength areas in the market.
A Multidirectional View
While AMP has many forthcoming titles to look forward to this year, some of the foundation of its success lies in the past—specifically in its backlist.
"AMP's backlist is of significant importance—many of our backlist titles continue to sell well even decades after publication. This is true of nearly all of our core categories," says Andrews. "Cookbooks are tremendously evergreen backlist sellers; comics and cartoons as well. ("Calvin and Hobbes" and "The Far Side" continue in popularity although their creators retired years ago.) Likewise, and fortunately for us, our titles in home and craft, keepsake, puzzles and games, general trade, and children's all enjoy long shelf lives."