Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017: Walter Foster Publishing

Walter Foster Publishing: Celebrating 95 Years!

Editors' Note

Happy 95th Birthday, Walter Foster Publishing!

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates the 95th anniversary of Walter Foster Publishing (an imprint of The Quarto Group), the preeminent publisher of art instruction books, and its growth into new areas and markets, particularly children's publishing.

Books & Authors

Walter Foster Publishing: Fresh and Contemporary

The preeminent publisher of art instruction books, Walter Foster Publishing began like many California entrepreneurial success stories: In 1922, Walter Foster, a caricaturist, sign painter, and Vaudevillian performer, among other talents, started publishing instructional art books in his home in Laguna Beach. In the beginning, he did it all: writing, illustrating, printing, binding, packaging, shipping, and distribution. Walter was driven by his belief that anyone who wanted to draw or paint could do so with just a little help and encouragement.

His approach resonated around the country and then internationally, and Walter Foster Publishing grew into one of the best-known, trusted publishers of art-instruction books. When Foster died in the 1980s, at age 90, his heirs sold the company to Newport Beach, California, entrepreneur Ross Sarracino and a group of investors. Under Sarracino's tenure, Walter Foster continued to grow, eventually adding a line of children's drawing books, including licensed titles with Disney, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Hasbro, and others. The Quarto Group, the London-based international publishing group founded in 1976, purchased Walter Foster Publishing in 1996.

In the past decade, Walter Foster has "really hit its stride," says Rebecca Razo, publisher of Walter Foster and the forthcoming Laguna Press. "Anne Landa, group publisher of Quarto Southern California, took over running the business in January 2015, at which time we revamped our program." This includes adding a wider range of titles, not just for serious fine artists, but also for art hobbyists, crafters, and weekend art enthusiasts, as well as introducing more intuitive approaches to teaching art. "And we've modernized the aesthetic of our list across the board," Razo adds. (See examples of upcoming and bestselling titles below.)

From early on, Walter Foster Publishing had a strong connection with the art and craft market. As it has diversified and expanded to include books for all levels of artist and a range of topics, the company has also expanded sales to the trade, online and specialty markets.

Anne Landa (left) and Rebecca Razo

But while Walter Foster Publishing is happy to have a longstanding, solid reputation in the art and craft market--"One of the things we hear over and over again from people around the world is: 'I grew up with Walter Foster books!' " Razo says--the company wants booksellers and librarians to know that, as Razo puts it, "We're not just your parents' and grandparents' instructional-art book publisher." The list is "as fresh and contemporary as it is practical and useful," she says, adding, "And we've struck a perfect balance between continuing to serve the needs of our core audience--the serious fine artist--and publishing for those who just want to pass the time making great art."

While expanding the list and channels, the company has also "mastered the art of discernment and has learned to be nimble," which Razo says includes an ability to "fail quickly." But that's a rarity because Walter Foster Publishing puts an emphasis on launching series that it's confident will enjoy a long backlist tail and by "continuing to refine our content so that it remains approachable and appealing," Razo says. In sum, the company aims "to continue to build our global audience, while quite simply continuing to make great books that sell well!"

Although Hachette distributes all of The Quarto Group's titles, the company itself handles sales, with its own in-house salespeople and external rep groups that work with bookstores and libraries/library wholesalers. Walter Foster Publishing partners with Lerner for library-bound edition sales and some series, while other titles are handled independently.

"Being part of the Quarto Group has enabled Walter Foster to spread its wings," Anne Landa, group publisher, Quarto Southern California, says. "Our team has full creative independence while benefitting from wide-reaching sales channels, an incredible foreign rights team, group production capabilities, global support, and healthy competition within the group ensuring we perform to the best of our collective abilities."

Quarto's mission is, Landa continues, "to make and sell great books that entertain, educate and enrich the lives of adults and children around the world. We're constantly looking for new ways to create and deliver content that people need."

Since 1996, Walter Foster Publishing has been part of The Quarto Group, which specializes in illustrated nonfiction, is domiciled in the U.S., and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Quarto has 48 imprints around the world that publish in 50 countries and 39 languages through traditional and non-traditional channels focusing on subjects that range from art 'how-to,' graphic design and home improvement to cooking, gardening, motoring and crafts. Its 400 employees are in the U.S., U.K., and Hong Kong. In the U.S., The Quarto Group has five creative hubs: in Lake Forest, Calif. (where Walter Foster is located); New York City; Beverly, Mass.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Seattle, Wash., where becker&mayer, its the most recent acquisition, is based.

Walter Foster Jr. Grows Up Fast

Walter Foster Jr., was founded in fall 2014 as The Quarto Group implemented a broad plan for children's publishing in the U.S. that included bringing in sister imprints from the U.K. In addition to Walter Foster Jr., MoonDance and Seagrass (more on these two imprints below), Quarto's global children's business includes Wide Eyed Editions, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, Small World, QEB, Words & Pictures and Ivy Kids.

Walter Foster Jr.'s mission statement is "Encouraging creativity and sparking imagination in children of all ages." This remains the company's focus, says Anne Landa, "whether that includes expanding our original line of learn-to-draw titles with new and existing formats and licenses, or continuing to develop on-trend enthusiast categories with titles such as Words to Live By or our new line of Board Books: ABC Yoga and ABC Love."

The imprint's list has quickly developed from traditional art and craft how-to titles to a more well-rounded active nonfiction list of some 20 to 40 books a season. Landa says these books are "unique, fun, and have a purpose--whether it's encouraging a young child to take an interest in learning about literary figures or great artists in a humorous way, learning about grammar and mathematics with a fun twist, or finding their creativity and learning how to draw or paint with their fingers or with step-by-step lessons from experts. We have the historical know-how based on 95 years of art instruction that has now passed down to the children's lists; we have something for everyone."

Reflecting the imprint's myriad subjects, Walter Foster Jr.'s markets range from art and craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby, to small indies "and many places in between!" Landa adds. "And we have a fantastic foreign rights team that ensure our books are published in every language possible," one of the many advantages of being part of The Quarto Group.

Walter Foster Jr., has grown organically, which the company plans to continue "by publishing to strong verticals within product type" as well as publishing series extensions and through continued strong backlist sales. Landa adds, "Our new licensed titles should also enable growth as we look to further expand our account base."

New Imprints: Moondance, Seagrass and Laguna Presses

Among recent new ventures, in addition to an upcoming one, are MoonDance Press, which launched last fall, headed by Charlie Nurnberg, former CEO and publisher of Sterling Publishing and co-founder and publisher of Imagine Publishing. Seagrass Press, headed by Josalyn Moran, a former children's book executive at Barnes & Noble, Chronicle Books and Albert Whitman & Company, launched at the same time. Both Nurnberg and Moran are "great voices, with years of experience, in the children's market," says Landa.

The two new imprints are headquartered in the California office and focus on children's nonfiction with an emphasis on the education market, gift and specials sales. Landa notes that they "fit into the publishing program very well" and add value and exposure to the overall list.

And there's another imprint on the way. Formally launching in spring 2018, Laguna Press is a lifestyle imprint for adults, whose content and aesthetic will be inspired by America's West Coast culture, from Baja California to British Columbia. Razo, who will oversee the launch and the imprint, adds that the new initiative is "one that we're very excited about!"

Bestsellers and Upcoming Titles

Walter Foster:

Folk Art Fusion by Heather Galler ($21.95, 9781633221987, March 2017). In Folk Art Fusion, artist Heather Galler teaches budding artists how to create intensely colorful, eye-popping combinations of traditional and contemporary folk art using acrylic paint. Consisting of detailed, step-by-step instructions, Galler demonstrates how to select paper, brushes and color palettes on a range of subjects, including Day of the Dead, Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Chinese dragon, and pastoral scenes. Armed with Galler's foundational techniques, painters can find folksy inspiration for their own creations in the world around them. Heather Galler is a painter and mixed media artist whose colorful creations are available on Etsy via her website,


Creative Lettering and Beyond by Gabri Joy Kirkendall, Laura Lavender, Julie Manwaring and Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn ($19.95, 9781600583971, Nov. 2014). Creative Lettering and Beyond, part of Walter Foster's extensive Creative... and Beyond series, is a bestselling guide to the art of hand-lettering. This modern form of calligraphy can be practiced in many mediums, including ink, chalk and paint, and applied to paper, glass, ceramics and more. The expert artists/authors provide instruction on every facet of the craft, from materials to technique and inspiration, so that hand-letterers of all skill levels can apply their new-found knowledge on flourished gift cards, fanciful framed quotes, or any alphabetic enterprise.


Art on the Rocks by F. Sehnaz Bac, Marisa Redondo and Margaret Vance ($21.95, 9781633222168, May 2017). Painters who have always wanted to practice their art on stones won't have to fear a rocky start with the upcoming Art on the Rocks guide. Three renowned rock artists demonstrate a variety of techniques, including how to select the proper stones and painting materials. The book includes 35 rock painting projects for all skill levels, from colorful mandalas to nature-themed patterns, animals and more. Detailed, easy-to-follow instructions leave no stone unturned in the quest for gorgeous rock art.


Seagrass Press:

The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton W. Burgess ($9.95, 9781633222922, March 2017). This reprint of the classic children's tale, part of the Thornton Burgess Library series, brings Peter Cottontail's hijinks to a new generation of young readers. Pouncing Peter must outwit ravenous Reddy Fox, and the rabbit's fascination with neighboring critter Johnny Chuck's hibernation leads to amusing consequences. Thornton W. Burgess (1874-1965) was a conservationist and prolific author of many beloved children's books. Other books in the series include The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk (9781633222939, March 1), The Adventures of Reddy Fox (9781633223684, Oct. 2017), and The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel (9781633223691, Oct. 2017).


MoonDance Press:

Footloose by Kenny Loggins, illustrated by Tim Bowers ($17.95, 9781633221185, Oct. 2016). Music legend Kenny Loggins adapts his soundtrack song from the 1984 film Footloose into a fun book for very young readers. It follows zookeeper Jack and a cast of dancing animals, like the chimp Louise, Mister DJ Elephant, Marie the lemur, Milo the wombat, and more. Footloose comes with a bonus CD featuring new recordings by Loggins, including a sing-along version of the book's lyrics. Loggins's four-decade career has earned him 12 platinum albums and two Grammys, among other accolades. Tim Bowers is an illustrator whose work has appeared in more than 35 children's books.


Walter Foster Jr.:

Goats of Anarchy: Polly and Her Duck Costume by Leanne Lauricella ($17.95, 9781633224186, Sept. 2017). Leanne Lauricella, also known as Goat Mama, runs the non-profit organization Goats of Anarchy, which rescues baby goats with special needs. Goats of Anarchy's Instagram account, with its adorable pictures of baby goats, is very popular. Polly and Her Duck Costume is the first of several Goats of Anarchy for Kids series books, each sharing the story of one lucky rehabilitated baby goat. Little Polly had trouble adjusting to life with other goats, until Lauricella made her a confidence-boosting duck costume. The Goat with Many Coats (9781633223332, Nov. 2017) and Piney the Goat Nanny (9781633223325, Nov. 2017) are Polly's next playmates.

The Quarto Group:

Walter Foster Publishing: Creative Lettering and Beyond: Inspiring Tips, Techniques, and Ideas for Hand Lettering Your Way to Beautiful Works of Art by Gabri Joy Kirkendall, Laura Lavender, Julie Manwaring, and Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn

Walter Foster Jr.: ABC Yoga: Join Us and the Animals Out in Nature and Learn Some Yoga! by Christiane Engel

Moondance Press: Footloose by Kenny Loggins

Seagrass Press: The Thornton Burgess Library

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