Amistad Press founder Charles F. Harris, 81, died December 16. Harris began his career at Doubleday in the 1950s and also worked at Random House and Howard University Press before founding Amistad in 1986, which he sold to HarperCollins in 1999 (and stayed with until 2003.)
The NYT covers the growth in personalized children’s books, from UK-based Lost My Name to Sourcebooks‘ Put Me In the Story program and others. But the paper may be a little off-base in dismissing the impact. While 2 percent growth in print units is hailed as a renaissance, adding a percent or two to children’s revenues means “customized books remain a tiny part of the booming children’s book business.” They say, “such titles cannot be mass-produced and stocked in stores, where the majority of children’s books are purchased” — and yet, Barnes & Noble has been testing printing Put Me In the Story books on demand within their NYC Union Square store, promoted right at the front door. (The chain has POD pilots at three stores so far.)
While “most families will not acquire a whole library of personalized books,” many personalized book buyers do turn into repeat customers — and the personalized books themselves can get kids and gift-givers alike excited about books, which carries broad benefits. Plus they sell at premium prices, and offer all kinds of possibilities for expansion.