Founded in 1982, Orca Book Publishers is an independently owned Canadian children's book publisher. With over 500 titles in print and more than 65 new titles a year, Orca publishes award-winning, best-selling books in a number of genres. Orca is a publisher of high quality, award-winning books for children and teens and reluctant readers of all ages. From beautifully illustrated picture books through captivating juvenile fiction and compelling novels for teen readers to professionally-written teachers' guides, Orca is dedicated to bringing the best possible books to young readers.
Big Universe had the opportunity to sit down with Melanie Jeffs, Director of Digital Products at Orca Book Publishers for the latest in our Publisher Spotlight series.
Big Universe: We'd love to hear about what you're doing at your company. What are some of the most popular items that you've published in the last three years?
Melanie Jeffs: Our most exciting recent project has definitely been Seven (the series), a set of linked stories by seven authors that we published simultaneously. The stories are linked by grandfather’s will. The will is a bucket list of sorts. Each grandson receives an envelope that sends him off on an adventure. These kids go to Spain, Iceland, Mt. Kilimanjaro, France. The series has been immensely popular. We had trouble keeping up with demand over Christmas.
Big Universe: In looking at the current front list and the upcoming season, are there any specific themes that you've focused on in the catalog?
Melanie Jeffs: In the Orca Currents series, we have a lot of titles coming up with a focus on social media and digital toys. It’s been interesting to see how the changes in technology have changed storytelling.
Big Universe: Do you have a personal favorite from the current catalog that isn't getting lots of 'buzz'? What is it about that book that sets it apart for you?
Melanie Jeffs: One of my all-time favourite picture books is Mechanimals. The illustrations are fun, and the text is spare, which I personally love in a picture book. We’ve recently released it in paperback.
Big Universe: What is the book that has been the biggest surprise to you (can be a sleeper, new series that has gone like wildfire, a book that was the cover but not as popular as others, etc.)?
Melanie Jeffs: The Seven series has definitely been the surprise. We packaged all seven books into a boxed set, something we hadn’t tried here before. Before the season began we put together an office pool in which everyone tried to guess how many bundles we would sell. We ended up selling ten times the highest guess.
Big Universe: What's next for your company? Are there changes coming in the following year? Do you have any new series or product lines that you’d like to share with us?
Melanie Jeffs: We have a new series called Orca Footprints coming this spring. This series aims to help kids answer their question about the state of the natural world with well-researched , simply-expressed information and powerful images. Pedal It! How Bicycles are Changing the World and Down To Earth, How Kids Help Feed the World are scheduled for May publication.
In the fall we are launching a series of novels about kids involved in performing arts called Limelights.