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Looking back at 2016: our sixth year of publishing

Nosy Crow 5th Birthday Party | Lumiere London

In February 2016 we celebrated our fifth birthday with a party at Lumiere London

I write a blog post looking back at – and celebrating the successes of – each year that Nosy Crow has been in existence. Here’s last year’s, for example.

Pretty much each year, I acknowledge that writing it is an indulgence: it’s as much a kind of journal entry for me as it is written for anyone else who might stumble upon it. So thank you for indulging me again.

2016 was, in so many ways, a grim old year (from our point of view at least) – endless stories of conflict and terrorism, the Brexit vote, Zika, Trump and the deaths of iconic writers and performers. We cared about these. In the case of the Brexit vote, we wrote about it.

But the truth is that, for Nosy Crow, 2016 was our best year so far.

In our 6th year of publishing, our sales were £9 million – an increase of 76% on the previous year, and another year of growth. Our UK print sales to consumers, measured by Nielsen through the TCM (Total Consumer Market) were up 73%, which is, co-incidentally, a figure that is 10 times the size of the 7.3% increase in UK print sales to consumers (as reported by The Bookseller today). We ended the year the UK’s 13th biggest publisher of children’s books, and £1.30 in every £100 spent on children’s books in the UK was spent on a Nosy Crow book.

Not all of our sales come from the UK, though. By the end of 2015, we had sold rights in 28 languages. We have now sold right in 35 languages: Ola and Michela added Lithuanian, Slovenian, Romanian, Basque, Serbian, Faroese and Estonian rights sales to their tally. It’s also worth saying that 2016 was our best year ever for English language sales outside the UK, especially in Australia and New Zealand, where we work exclusively with Allen & Unwin, and in USA and Canada, where we have a particularly strong relationship with Candlewick Press, but where we’ve also worked with a number of other publishers. (If you are a foreign publisher or a scout, and would like regular updates about our rights activity, email rights@nosycrow.com to be added to our rights newsletter mailing list.)

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The Nosy Crow stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Though we were very proud to have, in My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons, our very first number one children’s book bestseller in 2016, no one single title drove this sales increase: we had successes across the list and we also grew our list. We published 95 original books (so that’s more than 95, if you include paperbacks and board books), up 27% on 2015.

The big areas of expansion for us were non-fiction and activity books: we published 17 in the year. Many of these were published as part of our partnership with The National Trust, which got off to a really terrific start in 2016. Not only were The National Trust a dream to work with, but the books we published jointly were brilliantly supported by supermarkets and bookshops. We had some rather innovative colouring book ideas, some of which were published with The National Trust and some of which we published simply as Nosy Crow books, and these sold very well not just in the UK but internationally. In 2016, we published our first book in partnership with The British Museum too – a tie-in to their Sunken Cities exhibition, and we have lots more to come from this partnership which launches properly later this year.

And in November we published Buster’s Christmas, a children’s picture book based on the 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert (and the fourth time that Nosy Crow has been chosen to produce the companion picture book).

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Initial sketches by Sam Usher for the mum in Buster’s Christmas, our book for John Lewis to tie in with their Christmas advert

We were hugely proud to be named the Independent Publisher of the Year at the Independent Publishers Guild Awards – their highest accolade – beating off extraordinarily strong and long-established competition. We were also named the Independent Children’s Publisher of the Year. If you include Tom Bonnick’s Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award, we’ve won 11 Independent Publishers Guild Awards in 4 years. And in December, I won Women in Publishing’s Pandora Award (which is awarded for “significant and sustained contribution to the publishing industry”).

Pandora Award | Women in Publishing

Kate with fellow Pandora Award shortlistees Justine Solomons and Alison Jones

Individual apps, books, authors and illustrators won awards too. Our Goldilocks and Little Bear app won the FutureBook Children’s Book of the Year Award, and we are hugely proud to say that this is the fifth year running that we have won this prize – every time that the prize has been awarded, in fact.  My Brother is a Superhero won both the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year Award, and the inaugural The Bookseller Industry Awards Children’s Book of the Year Award. Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham, previous winners of the children’s fiction Blue Peter Book Award, won the Federation of Children’s Book Groups Children’s Book Award for My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat. Ross Collins won the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour for There’s A Bear on My Chair. Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and Ali Pye won the Scottish Children’s Book Award. Box, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw and written by Min Flyte (AKA Camilla Reid), won the Sheffield Baby Book Award. A book written and/or edited by Camilla has won the prize, one of few that acknowledges the importance of books for the youngest readers, four out of the last five years. Congratulations to all of our prize winners – I could go on – and all of our commended and shortlisted authors and illustrators.

Though we lost a few of our great colleagues to competitors or, in one case, Australia, 2016 was a year of huge growth for us in terms of the number of crows: 11 people joined the team, and today there are 35 people working for Nosy Crow – not all of us full-time, though.

If you’re reading this, you’re on our website. In 2016, we had 262,816 unique users (up 5% on last year), and 942,866 page views. To date, 852,000 people have viewed Nosy Crow videos on YouTube and our views were up 9% compared to the previous year. We have 6,258 Facebook likes, up 16% on last year, and we have 40,195 Twitter followers, up 16% on last year.

Thanks to every single book-lover, mum, dad, teacher and librarian who has bought one of our books or apps. Thanks to the redoubtable, knowledgeable, savvy booksellers who have stocked our books. Thanks to all the publishers from Beijing to Boston and from Sydney to Stockholm (and we visited all four cities to sell books this year, as it happens). Thanks to our publishing partners, The National Trust, The British Museum and John Lewis. Thanks to the literacy charities we’ve worked with and support. Thanks to the printers and other suppliers who made so much of what we do possible. Thanks, above all, to the authors and illustrators (and their agents) who continue to entrust us with their creativity, imagination and skill with every book we work on with them. You have all helped to make 2016 a rather stellar year for us, and we are very grateful to you.

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