Publisher Profile: Boxer Books
The CBC asks David Bennett, Publisher, questions about the publisher.
How did your publishing house start out?
In 2000, I created Boxer Books. I have always worked in children’s publishing as creative director and publisher. The inimitable Bernette Ford had just gone freelance in New York and was available to be Boxer Books editor. Ken Wilson-Max, Britta Teckentrup, and Sebastien Braun were all on board to publish with Boxer – what’s not to like?! So a three-year plan and we were on our way.
What is your publishing house most known for?
Young books for the 0-5 age range. We pushed the envelope when we designed every picture book to work in paperback and board. This really took off for Boxer, and many publishers followed when they saw the success of this format-driven publishing plan.
Where in the country is your house based? What do you love about being based there?
I am based in London, England. I visited my grandparents in London almost every week from the mid 1950s and have worked in London since the early 1970s and London still excites me. I love the energy. Like all cities, it is constantly evolving, but it retains that je ne sais quoi. (There isn’t an English equivalent to describe it.)
Has your house ever gone through a merger? If so, with who and when?
Two years ago, I was approached by Union Square and Co. (née Sterling) to join them with Boxer Books as their pre-school list. The new management at Union Square, headed by CCO Emily Meehan, is exciting, enthusiastic, and incredibly supportive; the opportunities are immense. In just 18 months, Boxer has acquired major licenses, such as Moomins, created a new 20-book early learning brand, and we are preparing to launch 72 new titles in 2024.
What conventions and conferences does your publishing house usually attend?
Bologna, Frankfurt, and London are all important fairs for Boxer in terms of selling and acquisitions. In my role as publisher, I acquire and get inspiration from brand and gift conventions.
What has been the biggest change your house has made and retained since the pandemic started?
I guess my answer to the merger questions covers this. The offer to be part of something much bigger came out of the blue while coming out of lockdown and opened an exciting door.
How many full-time employees does your house have?
At Boxer, it will be three by the end of the year, with more to come as we grow, but there are also UNSQ staff based in UK London, including the rights manager and production manager.
How many books does your house aim to publish per season/year?
Around 30-40 per season, 65-80 per year.
Which genres does your house prefer to publish?
Beautiful picture books by new authors, preschool concepts, and holiday
Which formats does your house prefer to publish?
Board and cased picture books
What are some of your house’s publishing priorities over the next few years?
To increase the quality and quantity of our list, support new talent, and build on licenses.
Which title has your house recently rallied behind?
The Magical Snowflake by Bernette Ford and Erin K. Robinson which publishes this fall. It is a superb book.
Which title does your house feel deserved more love than it got?
Letters to Anyone and Everyone — a collection of stories by Toon Tellegen. A truly unique title, intelligent, empathetic, funny, and beautifully illustrated.
Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about?
The Magical Snowflake, a gorgeous picture book for the winter season, and Spring Street, a new 20-book preschool brand.
Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a school or public library?
Spring Street is ideal for preschool and kindergarten. A new brand with everything from colors to opposites, from touch-and-feel animals in all sorts of habitats to touch-and-trace ABC, from feelings and understanding our world to discovering dinosaurs and space. This is a new, art-led, contemporary series for all discerning adults and caregivers who want the best for their children. Fabulous art and design and expertly curated.
Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a classroom? Which grade?
Again, it would be Spring Street as it is ideal for preschool and for those just starting school.
Which of your frontlist tiles would be great for an at-home library?
Spring Street for sure! A one-stop brand for the perfect intro to early learning.
Name a few of your favorite backlist titles that people should check out.
- Full Moon Soup – now sadly out of print
- Letters to Anyone and Everyone by Toon Tellegen
- Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee
- I’m Not Cute! by Jonathan Allen
What else would you like to tell us about your house and the amazing work you all do?
Boxer was set up to create and work with creatives, particularly nurturing new talent, such as Britta Teckentrup (Big Smelly Bear), Sebastien Braun (I Love My Daddy), and Alexandra Milton (Whose Tracks in the Snow?). Our creative input, direction, and understanding offered these artists the opportunity to shine, and they did. Graduates who started out with Boxer are now at the helm of major children’s lists within UK publishing houses. Boxer has always been a small, often freelance group, working incredibly closely together, and that creates an understanding and focus. When a creative group gels and works well together, it is just like a small acapella group in perfect harmony. Bliss.
Thank you, Boxer Books!