Vice President of Sales Anna Erickson discusses publishing at The Creative Company, 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 (7/13/16) has been condensed and edited by Kristen Daily, Ebooks MN Project Intern.
Minitex: How would you describe yourself as a publisher? What do you see your role as in the Minnesota publishing community?
Anna Erickson: The Creative Company has deep roots in Minnesota. The company was founded in Mankato in 1932, and initially produced maps and diagrams for teachers and students, chalk game sets, and rubber stamps. By the 1960s, Creative was a leading children’s publisher, creating magnificently illustrated school and library books on a multitude of subjects ranging from science to sports. Today, the company is led by third-generation owner and publisher Tom Peterson and features four imprints: Creative Education (nonfiction series), Creative Editions (picture books), Creative Paperbacks (soft cover versions of nonfiction and picture books), and Creative Digital (ebooks). Across all imprints, The Creative Company maintains its longstanding dedication to publishing innovative and beautiful books that both teach and inspire.
M: What does it mean to you to be an independent publisher in Minnesota?
AE: It has been pointed out to us that The Creative Company is becoming more of an anomaly as each year passes. We are based on the banks of the Minnesota River rather than a coast. We build relationships with our authors and illustrators over decades rather than seasons. Most of all, it means that we are free to follow our unique vision and create books that reflect our deep love for high-quality design, beautiful production, and intelligent texts.
M: What are you most proud of as a publisher? What publications are you most excited about?
AE: It would be impossible to single out a specific title. Our publisher, Tom Peterson, will tell you that his favorite book is the one he is working on right now. However, we are very proud of the relationships we have developed over time with our authors and illustrators.
For example, it took time for J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelley to develop the partnership they brought to bear with their award-winning Harlem Hellfighters. It represented their 5th collaboration with Creative over 10 years. We love this book, but we value the ongoing relationship with Pat and Gary even more.
M: How would you describe your relationship with the Minnesota library community? What would you like to see in the future?
AE: School and public libraries are the lifeblood of our business, and the librarians who serve them are our most informed audience. We know that they notice everything — from the color of our endpapers to the nuance of comma placement. We hope to continue our conversation with them — at conferences, via Facebook and Twitter, in our local schools and public libraries — and better understand their needs, challenges, and triumphs.
M: What would you like the community to know about you?
AE: That we place quality first — each and every day. That we are passionate about the books we publish. That we we believe kids are smart, whether or not they are currently active readers — that assumption informs everything we do.
M: What changes do you think publishing will see in the future? Where do you see The Creative Company in the future?
AE: The Creative Company will celebrate its centennial in 2032. One of the company’s original sets of rubber stamps is on display in our office. It is a reminder of how far we’ve come, and an inspiration as we plan for the future. Technology changes. Formats evolve. But our core values of beautiful design and intelligent content remain constant.
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?
AE: No doubt the boundaries of geography and time will continue to erode. We greatly appreciate both our longstanding relationships with the reviewers at Booklist and the School Library Journal, as well as our new relationships with the small army of committed bloggers who have taken to the airwaves via social media to share their curatorial expertise. The number of books published each year is staggering, and I think we’re all searching for the same thing: voices we respect that lead us to discoveries we may not have made on our own.
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.