Yesterday evening, at the IPG Independent Publishing Awards, Nosy Crow won our 13th Independent Publishing Award in seven years: we won The Bookseller International Achievement Award.
Sadly, I left it at the hotel this morning, having lovingly propped it up to take a photograph of it, but Catherine, who lives nearby, will pick it up. That, I suspect, is what comes of going to bed at 2.00am.
Anyway, this is, brilliantly, the third time we won it: we previously won it in 2013 and 2014.
From its inception, Nosy Crow has focused on world, rather than local, markets. We have, with very few exceptions insisted on buying world rights; tailored our products to fit as wide a range of markets as possible, including commissioning work from illustrators outside the UK; invested in rights selling (in both staff and travel); sourced colour printing outside the UK; and patiently built relationships with key partners around the world while constantly expanding our range of customers and the countries with whom we do business.
Last year, over half our sales came from outside the UK. We sold our own edition of our books to Australia through Allen and Unwin; we’ve sold books, in partnership with Candlewick Press, in North America under a Nosy Crow imprint; and we’ve sold rights in many languages, adding for the first time, in the year, Farsi, Ukranian, Luxembourgish and Albanian, and bringing the total number of languages in which we’ve sold rights to 39.
We worked with a wider range of printers around the world and particularly in China than in any previous year: the money we spend on printing our books is much the biggest part of our spending budget, so getting the best possible deals and the best possible quality from reliable suppliers with good ethical and sourcing practices is hugely important to us.
Here’s what just a few of our customers said about Nosy Crow:
“Nosy Crow combines… excellent content for the target audience, precious illustrations and high quality materials. These three elements are necessary to publish good, smart and successful preschool books.
Nosy Crow team works flexibly, listening our needs. A good co-edition needs serious organization, often it’s a complex processes that needs also an intensive follow-up. Nosy Crow responds perfectly and transmits us confidence and security.”
Cristina Feliu, Editorial Director, Planeta, Spain
“The team puts a lot of effort into making the books ”travel” – make sense all over the world – at the same time as they are extremely successful in Britain. That, I know, is a very thin line to walk and you will have to be very clever to succeed. Which Nosy Crow is.”
Lotta Lyssarides, Editorial Director, Alfabeta, Sweden
“I really love working with Nosy Crow. Not only the whole team is sweet, easy-going and totally creative and has a sure nose for trends and topics that are interesting for children, but also you see and feel at first sight that their books are made with a lot of love, energy and effort.”
Anika Ziegler, Editorial Director, Loewe, Germany
“It is always a pleasure meeting with Nosy Crow at Book Fairs, not only because of the enthusiastic and dedicated people that work there, but because of the exceptional picture books they present. … You can see how much effort goes into finding exciting topics and illustrations and especially how much attention to detail is put into choosing the materials and producing the books.”
Christiane Lawall – Editor in Chief for Picture Books, Ueberreuter, Germany
There are two other things to say.
The first is that, while I picked up this prize, there are many, many people in the company who contributed to Nosy Crow’s success in the year. The editors and designers made the excellent books that we could sell and print abroad. Imogen Blundell and her team were behind the expansion of our range of printers and behind the management of our key relationships with Allen and Unwin and Candlewick Press. Ola Gotkowska and her team concluded over 600 rights and co-editions for books in translation. Ola was, again, shortlisted for Young Independent Publisher of the Year last night. Though she didn’t win that prize, she played a huge part in winning the International Achievement award.
The second is that, for me, this was one of the most important prizes of the evening. I’ve expressed my horror and disappointment at the prospect of Brexit before, and before the referendum, we gave illustrator Axel Scheffler a platform to air his views, too. At a point when the UK seems to be blundering down a path that makes no economic sense, driven, it seems, by a desire to pull away from a huge part of the world with which we share so much, I am proud both that Nosy Crow has won a prize that celebrates looking outwards not inwards, and, that rewards looking towards Europe, where we grew our sales by over 50% from a strong base in the course of last year.
Books, like other cultural and artistic expressions of ideas and creativity can’t, and shouldn’t be, constrained by the edges of nations. As a European publisher wrote to me in reply to my horrified email to her on the morning of June 24 2016, “No Brexit between us! The world of children’s books is imagination, no borders.”
We’d like to thank The Bookseller for sponsoring the award, and the judges for awarding it to us.