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Opportunity Knocks: Cottage Door Press Shares Success Secrets

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interview by Alexa Schlosser, Managing Editor, IBPA Independent magazine —

Alexa Schlosser

Two-time fastest-growing independent publisher Cottage Door Press is only four years old—what’s its secret to success?

While only a little over four years old, children’s book publisher Cottage Door Press has found incredible success in the industry, and Publishers Weekly named it one of the fastest-growing independent publishers in both 2017 and 2018. We were curious about the publisher’s approach to its business, and why they think they’ve been able to crack the code to indie advancement. We talked with Melissa Tigges, the company’s director of marketing and business development, to learn more.

Why do you think Cottage Door Press has grown so quickly since it released its first title in 2015?

Melissa Tigges (MT): I think our success is underpinned by a few things: opportunity (timing), experience, creativity, quality, and vision.

We started Cottage Door Press at a time when children’s book sales were beginning to shift to younger readers and as the read-aloud-from-birth message was being spread by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other national organizations. Recognizing this shift in the market, and a lack of fresh content in board books, we assembled a small team of seasoned children’s publishing veterans with expertise in design, editing, operations, sales, licensing, and acquisitions.

With our team in place, we focused our attention on the mission of encouraging more read-together time, by engaging little ones and their grown-ups with innovative formats and exciting content, while providing superior quality and durability.

Strategic execution of focused initiatives, including a robust, innovative, and diversified product portfolio, partnerships with targeted retailers and high-quality licensors, adept digital marketing, and a culture of creativity and continuous improvement, underpins sustained success.

What is Cottage Door Press doing differently with its titles than other children’s book publishers?

MT: One of the driving factors of our success has been our focus on content-rich board books in new and unique formats. Not only are parents reading to their children from a younger age (helping to drive the explosion in board book sales), but they’re wanting books that are more sophisticated for their little ones than board books of the past.

Our “reading is learning” philosophy is underpinned by the belief that educating and entertaining both children and their grown-ups will encourage more read-together time, so our books are designed to “read up” to children—we respect them, and choose artwork and language that interests, informs, and stretches their growing minds.

We have had some pushback from buyers thinking that board books should be simple, but clearly we have some experts on our side:

“Children are people, and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature.”
-Walt Disney

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children, is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
-C.S. Lewis

What is the company’s approach to marketing?

MT: Our approach to marketing is cohesive, but creative and progressive. Our brand messaging and aesthetics across all packaging, merchandising, and communications is consistent and well-integrated. We have hard-won relationships at key publishing media outlets for press release promotion, award recognition, and reviews.

We also understand that to win at retail, we need to engage online with the active community of children’s book enthusiasts and our customers. Through our website, blog, and social media channels, we have thousands of consumer touchpoints and a rapidly growing direct marketing database. Progressive digital marketing has helped us effectively market our impulse-driven products to the ever-growing e-commerce shopper.

Finally, we partner with causes and organizations through promotional programs and volunteer events to get quality books in the hands of little ones in need. This holiday season, we will be running our third annual Book for Book™ event benefiting Bernie’s Book Bank.

How does Cottage Door Press plan to continue its growth in the next five years?

MT: In 2018, Cottage Door Press acquired Parragon Books, allowing us to expand into new product categories, opening additional distribution channels, and expanding our international opportunities. In the next five years, we intend to stay committed to the 0-5-year-old market, but will further expand into additional product platforms including trade, value, electronics, and additional licensing partnerships. We will also be pursuing alternative sales and distribution channels by looking into the areas of toy, gift, and infant apparel as well as direct-to-consumer solutions.

Alexa Schlosser is the managing editor of IBPA Independent. Do you think your independent publishing company should be highlighted? Contact her at alexa@ibpa-online.org.

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