Marketing Manager Karina Rajtar discusses publishing at ABDO, one of the Ebooks Minnesota publishing partners. Ebooks MN is an online collection covering a wide variety of subjects for readers of all ages, and features content from our state's independent publishers.
This interview (6/13/16) has been condensed and edited by Kristen Daily, Ebooks MN Project Intern.
Minitex: How would you describe yourself as a publisher?
Karina Rajtar: ABDO has been a leader in children’s PreK–12 educational publishing for school and public libraries since 1985. We have earned a reputation for providing the best in reading and research for children and young adults while delivering unsurpassed customer service.
M: What does it mean to you to be an independent publisher in Minnesota? What do you see your role as in the Minnesota publishing community?
KR: We are a family-owned company (three generations of Abdos are among the current staff and Board of Directors) with local roots, and although we market and sell nationally, we have a very local feel and value true connections with our customers. We’re not a major corporation; we’re professional but uniquely in tune with what our customers – both in and outside of Minnesota – want and need.
M: What are you most proud of as a publisher? What publications are you most excited about?
KR: ABDO takes pride in delivering high-quality products and services that stay abreast of current issues and upcoming trends and meet the unique needs of the library market. We communicate with librarians regularly in order to understand their important roles and responsibilities.
We are most excited about series and titles readers can really learn from. We cover important topics and share angles young readers might not otherwise consider. We’re also excited about some of our newer endeavors that allow us to reach younger readers (through our newest division, Abdo Kids), tap into the talent of illustrators (in our Magic Wagon division), and reach students in new, engaging ways through our Abdo Zoom online databases and the Instant Access program. These projects all resulted as solutions to topics customers raised with our sales force across the country. We’ve been able to take that feedback and take real action to help librarians, and we’re very proud of that.
M: How would you describe your relationship with the Minnesota library community? What would you like to see in the future?
KR: We have strong ties to the Minnesota library community. We are members of ITEM – the Minnesota school library organization – and both exhibit at their annual conference and sponsor the Minnesota technology conference (TIES). We also donate samples to various libraries around the state.
We would like to see a licensed, full-time media specialist in every school library in the state. Now, more than ever, there is a need for a trained professional to help students become lifelong learners and effective users of technology and information. A media specialist can help not only students, but also classroom teachers utilize available technology to improve instruction. We expect to continue working with these librarians and media specialists to achieve their task using exceptional materials and resources.
ABDO would like the community to know that we are based in Minnesota and employ more than 100 people in the state. Every book we publish is printed and bound in Minnesota. Our roots are in Mankato, and our fulfillment and customer service team is there. Our sales, marketing, and editorial staff works from Edina. We are in this business with our customers and their patrons. Advocating for libraries and library staff is important to us.
M: What changes do you think publishing will see in the future? Where do you see ABDO in the future?
KR: We don’t think of ourselves as a hardcover and/or ebook publisher, though we have more than 500 new titles coming out this fall and currently have more than 6,000 total ebook titles available. Rather, we think of ourselves as a content creator. With our digital programs, such as Instant Access, we create the content and make it available in multiple formats. ABDO is proud to be the first publisher to offer scan-to-read QR code labels, which grant direct access to Abdo Digital eBooks. This allows librarians to offer ABDO content to more patrons on multiple devices in a simple, efficient manner.How our customers and their users ingest that content is up to them. We want to provide those choices along with maximum discoverability and the easiest of access.
M: PR coverage/getting word out about books has drastically changed (i.e. social media promotions, book trailers, etc.). What do you think this will look like in the future? How will people find books?
KR: This is where trained librarians and media specialists come in. At ABDO, we have a deep respect for librarians. No matter what tools are available or technological advancements take place, they continue to stay on top of what their patrons want/need and how to help them achieve that. Our approach is to continue communicating with librarians to assist them in this process. We do this through multiple media (including social media, enewsletters, and conversations via their local ABDO representatives or at trade shows), and we continually assess not where we want to share our message, but where they want to receive it. As long as we continue to listen to our customers and pay attention to what communication tools they are using, we will be able to meet them there to help them find the books they/their patrons need.
Ebooks Minnesota is a two-year pilot project of Minitex and State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education. The collection was made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Education through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and by Minitex.