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Publisher Profile: Familius

The CBC asks Christopher Robbins, Founder, questions about the publisher.

How did your publishing house start out?

After leading Gibbs Smith, Publisher for 16 years as their CEO and navigating that company through the Great Recession, I was interested in doing something different. I have a big family, nine kids, and sometimes they’d say to me, “Why don’t you publish something we’d actually read?” So, one day I had the idea of creating a company that would have as its mission to help families be happy. We’d have books, articles, videos, podcasts, etc., all focused on that idea. So on February 15, 2012, I launched the company with that intent.

What is your publishing house most known for?

Familius is best known for its award-winning picture and board books and adult books that lean into our ten habits of happy families: Work Together, Love Together, Heal Together, Play Together, Talk Together, Learn Together, Laugh Together, Read Together, Give Together, Eat Together.

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

My family and I live in the central valley of California, outside of a small town called Sanger. The central valley is the agricultural strength of the US. Most of our fruit, nuts, and vegetables are grown here. What I love about it is the diversity of culture, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the multiple national parks. And we’re only three to four hours from LA, SF, or the beach.

Has your house ever gone through a merger? If so, with who and when?

Familius has always maintained its independence.

What conventions and conferences does your publishing house usually attend?

Familius is distributed by Hachette, and this is why Familius is represented or is personally at all regional and major shows, including internationally.

What has been the biggest change your house has made and retained since the pandemic started?

I think we have a greater appreciation for teachers and what they have to do to continue teaching our children. My wife has home-schooled all of our children, so for us little changed, but I watched other families struggle. Familius continues to work hard to provide important and valuable books for this market.

How many full-time employees does your house have?

Familius has seven employees. But we also work with a number of people who don’t want to work part-time or full-time. They want only a few hours a week as they are moms or dads raising children. We embrace that idea and find great value in working with intelligent people who choose to stay home but want to participate in book publishing.

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

Familius has published as many as 70 books per year, but we have reduced that to around 30 going forward.

Which genres does your house prefer to publish?

Familius focuses primarily on children’s board books and children’s picture books, and adult gifts and references.

Which formats does your house prefer to publish?

Familius publishes print, digital, and audio formats.

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

Familius wants to expand its brand awareness through books, social media marketing, and video, webinar, and blog content. We want to expand the number of families that could add a little bit more happiness to their family life.

Which title has your house recently rallied behind?

Familius continues to focus on many books, but some that we think are perennials include Made for Me, But First We Nap, and Why? Daddy, Why?.

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

While it has had two printings, I think The Proudest Color should be in every school and public library. It’s a fantastic book, but exceptional authors and an illustrator, about how a child feels about the color of her skin.

Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about?

I’m absolutely stoked to release The House That Ruth Built, a creative non-fiction picture book about the very first baseball game played between the Yankees and the Red Sox in the original Yankee stadium. The book celebrates the 100-year anniversary of that building.

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

Definitely, The House that Ruth Built, releasing March 2023. For a current title, I recommend The Amazing World of Video Game Development. Super cool book.

Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a classroom? Which grade?

Quacks Like a Duck, a picture book about a platypus who comes to a costume party, is hysterical and teaches the importance of acceptance.

Which of your frontlist tiles would be great for an at-home library?

Christmas Fairies for Ouma is a lovely, beautiful holiday book expressing the love between a grandmother and her granddaughter who live far away from each other.

Name a few of your favorite backlist titles that people should check out.

Some of my and my family’s favorites include: Unicorn and Horse (are friends), Color Blocked, The Road Not Taken, Zheng Heng and the Incredible Earthquake Machine, and our entire Lit for Little Hands series, which are interactive classic literature primers.

What else would you like to tell us about your house and the amazing work you all do?

Familius strives to create beautiful books that truly help a family be happy, whether to read aloud, to cook with, to plant gardens, to experience the outdoors—whatever a family can do to be together is within our sights.

Thank you, Familius!

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