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Publisher Profile: Orca

The CBC asks Andrew Wooldridge, Publisher of Orca Book Publishers, questions about the publisher.

2024 marks our 40th anniversary as a publisher!

How did your publishing house start out?

Orca was founded in 1984 as a regional publisher in British Columbia. We started publishing Children’s books in the early 1990s and had early success with several bestselling picture books. Since then, we have focused almost exclusively on children’s books publishing everything from baby board books to picture books and middle-grade fiction and non-fiction through to YA fiction and nonfiction. We are also a distributor, representing 15 other publishers, mainly in the US but also in Canada; we operate warehouses in Victoria, BC and Ferndale, WA.

What is your publishing house most known for?

Orca publishes everything from beautifully illustrated board books and picture books to middle-grade and young-adult fiction. We strive to produce books that illuminate the experiences of people of all ethnicities, people with disabilities, and people who identify as LGBTQ+. Our goal is to provide reading material that represents the diversity of human experience to readers of all ages. Orca aims to help young readers see themselves reflected in the books they read. We are mindful of this in our selection of books and have a particular interest in publishing books that celebrate the lives of Indigenous people. Providing young people with exposure to diversity through reading creates a more compassionate world.

Where in the country is your house based? What do you love about being based there?

In the Pacific Northwest. What do we love? Everything!

What conventions and conferences does your publishing house usually attend? 

We attend Frankfurt, Bologna, ALA Annual and Midwinter, all the regional shows, EBMA, and others. This year marks a return to all of those.

How many full-time employees does your house have? 

Orca has 44 full-time employees.

How many books does your house aim to publish per season/year? 

Orca publishes around 85 to 90 books per year.

Which genres does your house prefer to publish? 

Well, books that matter.

Which formats does your house prefer to publish? 

Board books, hardcover, paperback, audio, all digital formats, and increasingly accessible ebooks.

What are some of your house’s publishing priorities over the next few years? 

More nonfiction, more diversity, more bestsellers!

Which title has your house recently rallied behind? 

We have published several titles about Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, including The Witness Blanket: Truth, Art and Reconciliation and Picking up the Pieces: Residential School Memories and The Making of the Witness Blanket. Important stories that must be told.

Which title does your house feel deserved more love than it got?

Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words. Growing Up Trans shares stories, essays, art, and poetry created by trans youth aged 11 to 18. In their own words, the works illustrate the trans experience through childhood, family and daily life, school, their bodies, and mental health. Together the collection is a story of the challenges, big and small, of being a young trans person. At the same time, it’s a toolkit for all young people, transgender or not, about what understanding, acceptance, and support for the trans community looks like. In addition to the contributed works, there are questions and tips from experts in the field of transgender studies to challenge the reader on how to be a trans ally. 

Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about? 

Get Out and Vote: How You Can Shape the Future by Elizabeth McLeod.

Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a school or public library?

Nonfiction in the Orca Think series.

Thank you, Orca Book Publishers!

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