We like books.
We're interested in ways to help more people (especially kids) like books.
You can read more about our company at www.capstonepub.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New catalog available

Our new Spring 2008 catalog is now in mailboxes and on desks all over the country. Receiving the newest catalog is always a moment of pride for the staff. We always comment that there’s no one moment to stop and look back on a recently completed season—once we’ve finished one season, we’re already well into our next one. Receiving the new catalog is a great way for us to take a minute and look back on a season of hard work on great books. Additionally, the catalog is a group effort. Though there’s one designer and one project manager, everyone ends up being involved in some way, whether it’s providing copy, proofing the order forms, or photographing interior spreads.

We’re really proud of our Spring ‘08 list. We’ve got old favorites, like new sports books from Jake Maddox, new David Mortimore Baxter, a fresh set of Graphic Revolve retellings, and a new book in the Eek and Ack series. There’s plenty of new stuff, too: some Jake Maddox books featuring girl athletes; a cool new series, The Adventures of Sam X, in our Pathway set; and in our Keystone set, six hi-low novels for girls. You can browse all of our books or request a catalog of your own at www.stonearchbooks.com.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Staff Spotlight: Michael Dahl

Name: Michael Dahl

Occupation/role at Stone Arch Books: Editorial Director and Acquisitions. I oversee all the editorial operations at Stone Arch, including list planning, story development, and working closely with the editors. I also handle submissions from new authors, acquire manuscripts, and manage freelancers. I’m also the author of the Library of Doom series.

Years at Stone Arch Books: I joined Stone Arch a few months after it began, in 2005.

Education: I went to school at Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota, graduating with a BA in English Literature and Theater.

What's your favorite SAB book?
There are so many! I guess my favorite graphic novel (so far) is Journey to the Center of the Earth. I’ve loved Jules Verne since I was in 4th grade. The art for this book is fantastic; the sea monsters are truly awe-inspiring. My favorite high-interest novel is Spies, a David Mortimore Baxter book. David is such a charming, likable, and real kid, and this particular story is funny and serious and smart all at the same time.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
I read constantly as a kid. I even read the dictionary – for fun. Yes, I was that nerdy kid in class who knew the difference between entomology and etymology. Bugs and words, two of my favorite subjects at the time. I was also a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Pilgrim's Progress. But the book that made the biggest impact on me when I was in 5th grade, and beyond, was Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. She had me spellbound until the very last page. She was a genius.

What were you like as an elementary/middle-school student?
I was the bookworm. More like the book fanatic. Whenever I did a book report, I wrote it in the style of the book’s author. My teachers told me that I didn’t need to “embellish.” I really went overboard when I gave a presentation to the class on a book about ancient Egypt and asked for volunteers to be mummies.

What's your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Besides reading, you mean, right? Visiting graveyards and haunted houses. It’s an activity that combines history, biography, geography, the unexplained, and heaps of fresh air.

Tell us a memorable Stone Arch Books moment from the past year.
I was fortunate enough to speak at the EncycloMedia conference in Oklahoma City this past fall. I gave a presentation on graphic novels and how teachers can use them to get kids excited about reading and increase their comprehension skills. I was amazed when I walked into my room several minutes before the talk and found it was standing room only. It was a great audience. And afterwards, dozens of teachers and librarians told me that they had never considered adding graphic novels to their collections until they had attended that workshop. It was gratifying to be able to show people what an incredible new art form (and teaching tool) graphic novels have become.

What’s the best part of your job?
Working with a team of talented, creative people. I love brainstorming, collaborating with smart, enthusiastic editors, designers, authors, and illustrators, and creating something that we couldn’t do separately as individuals.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Working with a team of talented, creative people.

This is the first in a multi-part series, which will spotlight the members of the Stone Arch Books staff. Drawing of Michael Dahl by Brann Garvey.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Judge a book by its cover (copy)

If you don’t work in publishing, there are many mysteries about how books are made. Who picks the cover? Who decides on chapter titles? Who writes the stuff on the back of the book?

Here at Stone Arch Books, and at most publishing companies, the editor of each book writes its cover copy (the words on the back). It seems like a pretty easy job, but it’s actually harder than it sounds. It’s difficult to condense an entire book down to 50 – 100 words (that’s how long our back cover copy is here). The cover copy can’t give away what happens in a book, but it has to be exciting enough to make readers want to pick it up. It can’t tell too much, but it can’t tell too little, either! We are working on the cover copy for our Fall 2008 list now.

You can use cover copy for a fun project for a classroom, library, or book group. Ask each student to read a book (or even a chapter of a book). Then, without reading the book’s cover copy, ask them to write their own. Compare the student’s cover copy to the book’s. What are their differences? What are their similarities? Which one most makes the student want to read the book?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Easy searching for Stone Arch Books

Do you wish you could create a nice list of Stone Arch Book titles available in your library that is easily findable within your library automation system? After reading about how Martha made it easy for her students to find Stone Arch Book titles, you might want to try this out in your library! It’s easy to do with any automation system that has a visual search option. Create a new visual search button that launches a search for keyword “Stone Arch Books”.

Remember to add a snappy picture to the button to clearly identify the titles – you can use any of our specially designed button art! Choose the color scheme you like best, and the format that works with your library automation system. (To save the image, click on the link below, and then right click on the Stone Arch Books button. Choose "Save Image As" and save to your computer.)

White background button: JPG | BMP | PNG
Black background button: JPG | BMP | PNG

Here's an example of how it will look!

Not sure about how to create a new button and search in your library automation system? Overall, most systems work in the same way:

1) Select your searching setup function.
2) Select the visual search function.
3) Get to where you want to feature your new search button and add a new button.
4) Modify the settings of your new generic button:
a. The button should be visible.
b. Add text that describes the button (we suggest “Fiction from Stone Arch Books”).
c. Apply an image to the button – you can use one from our list above!
d. Set the button action to search and enter the search term as “Stone Arch Books” or a favorite series.
5) Remember to save your changes!

Let us know how this works in your libraries – leave a comment with any feedback or suggestions.

--Gail Lewis, MLIS
Manager of Technical Project / Product Management
Capstone Publishers

Friday, January 18, 2008

When a reviewer "gets" us

As we've said before, we love to hear what readers think of our books. But we also like to hear what grownups think. That’s why a good review in SLJ or Booklist means so much to us. Every time the reviews come in, we send them to everybody at Stone Arch Books. We all talk about what we think of the reviews, what we can learn from them, how they can better our future books, and whether we agree with the review. It’s rewarding when we see that a reviewer really gets what we’re doing.

This review was in the January School Library Journal.

GALLAGHER, Diana G. Guilty!: The Complicated Life of Claudia Cristina Cortez. ISBN 978-1-59889-838-5; ISBN 978-1-59889-881-1. LC 2007005955.
GALLAGHER, Diana G.. Whatever!: The Complicated Life of Claudia Cristina Cortez. ISBN 978-1-59889-839-2; ISBN 978-1-59889-880-4. LC 2007005954. ea vol: illus. by Brann Garvey. 81p. (Claudia Cristina Cortez Series). photos. glossary. Web sites. CIP. Stone Arch. Jan. 2008. PLB $23.93; pap. $5.95.

Gr 4–7—In Guilty!, seventh-grader Claudia and her friend Monica are accused of stealing from popular clique leader Anna. Learning the principle "innocent until proven guilty," Claudia tracks down the real thief, exposing other wrongdoings and earning a few extra bucks in the process. Whatever! describes the never-ending drama faced by many 13-year-olds. When longtime friend Adam wants to join Claudia and her friends' "Whatever Club," the trio must decide if letting a boy in will alter the way their club is run and, ultimately, affect their friendships. With their TV-sitcom-like tone, these books are lively and engaging. Their short sentences, changing and playful fonts, and cartoons will entice reluctant readers. Each title includes background information about the different characters and their relationship to the protagonist. Fans of Marissa Moss's "Amelia's Notebook" series (S & S) and Carol Weston's The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf, 2000) will enjoy Claudia and her dilemmas. Discussion questions and writing prompts are included.—Jennifer Cogan, Bucks County Free Library, Doylestown, PA (School Library Journal, 1/2008)

We loved that the reviewer could tell the Claudia books were meant for reluctant readers, since we designed the Claudia books specifically to appeal to the growing population of reluctant girl readers. We use cool fonts to emphasize key words and phrases. We are careful with sentence structure, in order to make reading easy and fun. The pages are lined with small illustrations to help identify characters and enliven the story. And the Cast of Characters in the beginning of the book helps readers predict the story and recognize characters immediately, thus removing one of the very first obstacles to reading.

We’ll have more Claudia in our Fall ’08 catalog. In fact, we’re having the photo shoot for the new Claudia covers in February!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back from Midwinter!

Well, we made it back from ALA Midwinter! Conventions are always so busy and so exhilarating. I spent breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with librarians this year, and what a wonderful group of people! Those who know our books know what they want from them.

Our breakfast on Saturday was with a couple of librarians . . . and I mean a couple! Malcolm and Martha Fick are librarians who once worked in the technology industry, but have come back to the school library with enthusiasm. Martha works at Moorestown Upper Elementary School in Moorestown, NJ, and her students love our Jake Maddox series. On her website, she uses icons to make searching for books easier. She has added our logo to help her students find our books quickly. Seems like a good idea to me!

Malcolm, who is a librarian at Willingboro Memorial Upper Elementary School in Willingboro, NJ, has very little budget to work with, but has a group of kids that could really use our books. He’s still experimenting, but we’re sure he’ll get his kids hooked on Stone Arch Books too! We gave him a few books to get his SAB collection started.

Saturday night dinner was with Diane Chen and her fellow librarians from Tennessee. What a hoot! We laughed all night.

Photo, left to right: Kathleen Baxter, Maryellen Gregoire, Deborah Ford, and Stone Arch Books president Joan Berge

You can see Joan and me in the picture with our friends Kathleen Baxter, author of the Gotcha books and SLJ columnist (“The Non-Fiction Booktalker”), and Deborah Ford, BER presenter (and author!). We just like hanging out at the booth with them. They always have good advice about our products.

My last visit of the weekend was with Dr. Sylvia Vardell from Texas Women’s University. She is such a wonderful mentor for me. She advised me on what part of librarianship would be appropriate for me to study (I’m starting classes this semester at The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN). Dr. Vardell was on the very first ALSC/Booklist/YALSA Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Selection Committee. She had great things to say about the committee and its chair, Mary Burkey.

All in all, it was a great weekend—and I even made it to see the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps like I’d hoped to.

--Maryellen Gregoire
Director of Product Planning and Public Relations, Stone Arch Books

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hugo Cabret: The Shape of Things to Come?

Last year at the SCBWI conference in New York, I was in the audience when Brian Selznick presented his amazing The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a Novel in Words and Pictures. He first spoke about how he was inspired by silent films, especially those created by the Lumiere brothers of France. Then he showed a nonstop montage of images from Hugo (lasting at least 20 minutes) accompanied by atmospheric orchestral music and, of course, ending with a famous shot of the David O. Selznick mansion, which featured in the credits of many Hollywood classic films (the director is a cousin of Brian’s grandfather). When the “film” was over, there was a collective gasp, and then a standing ovation.

Graphic novels today seem to take most of their inspiration from current mainstream cinematic effects. Selznick showed his audience that any powerful visual medium can spark and trigger an idea, a plotline, a character, or a scene. That’s one of the reasons I was thrilled to hear that Hugo won the Caldecott: Selznick has redefined the novel that tells its story “in words and pictures.” At Stone Arch Books we have two copies of Selznick’s 20-pound tome on our shelves, one for Design and one for Editorial. Hugo makes us look at all of the art that surrounds us on a daily basis, and re-think how it can help us make our books more exciting and more affecting, and speak to reluctant readers in ways we never thought possible.

--Michael Dahl
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books

Monday, January 14, 2008

Not some geek that sits home all day reading!

We love to visit libraries and classrooms whenever we can, but we don’t have time to do it as much as we’d like. So we love it when we get letters from fans. Here’s what one 11-year-old reader from Texas wanted to tell Jake Maddox. Our Jake Maddox sports books are some of our most popular with kids, teachers, librarians, and parents. Letters like this keep us energized and excited to publish more great books!

Dear Mr.Maddox,
My name is ------ ------ but just call me
------. I am in 4th grade. I really got
Hooked on your books! Don’t get the wrong
Idea I am not some geek that sits home all
Day reading. Iam 11 years old .The first
Book I read of yours was Mr.Strike Out.
I read a lot of your books.

I am hoping you write me back. If so send me
an autographed picture of you wallet size
Please!!! also a copy of Mr.Strike Out.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

ALA Midwinter!

This Friday, we’re off to ALA Midwinter! Joan Berge, Michaela DeLong, and I are representing Stone Arch Books.

The fun thing about our booth (we're in #758) is that for the first time, we are physically adjacent to our sister companies, and we're also communicating that we are all from Capstone Publishers! You’ll definitely notice it with the carpeting and the signage. We did something similar at AASL and it looked great!

On Friday night, come visit our booth and sign up for the sports basket, part of the raffle sponsored by ALA. The drawing for the basket is on Friday night around 7:00. Winners will be announced over the loudspeaker in the exhibit hall. We’re handing out cool Library of Doom posters, too! They’re printed on both sides . . . perfect for windows!

I’m hoping to find some time to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The steps, made famous in the "Rocky" movies, were built with stone from Mankato Stone Company, part of Coughlan Companies (our parent company). After hearing about it for so many years, I can’t wait to see those famous steps in person!

When you come to the booth, make sure you mention this blog and we’ll give you a Library of Doom book signed by the author, Michael Dahl (while supplies last). See you at booth #758.

Hope to see you there!

--Maryellen Gregoire
Director of Product Planning and Public Relations, Stone Arch Books

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's not easy being green.

It’s become pretty trendy to talk about being green, reducing one’s carbon footprint, recycling. It’s harder to actually do the things you need to do to feel better about the imprint you’re leaving on the world. It never quite feels like enough. Since we’re a book publishing company, and, you know, books are made out of paper, we are always thinking about ways to tread more lightly on the world.

For example, this year both Stone Arch Books and our parent company, Capstone Publishers, sent out e-cards as our holiday cards. Seems like a small thing, but just think of all the paper we saved by not printing cards, or putting them into envelopes. Now multiply that by the energy it takes to ship those envelopes all over the world. A small step makes a huge impact.

We also print our books and ancillary materials on recycled paper that contains post-consumer waste. And we strongly prefer electronic submissions to the old-fashioned paper slush pile.

We are always trying to come up with more ways to be eco-friendly. What are some of the things you do?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Comics in the classroom?

Not such a crazy idea anymore!

In an editorial today, the New York Times championed something that’s very near and dear to our hearts: Comic books in the classroom. Buoyed by a recent article about the Comic Book Project and the Maryland Comics in the Classroom initiative, the editorial posits that comic books (and by extension, graphic novels) have an important place in education. In fact, the editorial states, “The pairing of visual and written plotlines that [comic books] rely on appear to be especially helpful to struggling readers.” We’ve been saying this since our first graphic novels hit shelves in Spring 2006, so it’s nice of the Times to catch up! We’ve got a make-your-own-graphic-novel page (opens PDF) that students love, which is a great supplement to any of our graphic novels and a fabulous learning tool for the classroom.

There are sure to be many more articles like the two in the Times--here's to getting kids to read with the kinds of books they love.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy 2008!

Happy New Year, and welcome to the Stone Arch Books (SAB) blog!

This blog was born because we realized that there was an exciting and inspiring conversation taking place around the world about books and reading and kids. It was happening all over the internet, on blogs, discussion groups, and wikis. There, people were talking about our passion--getting kids to read--but we weren’t talking back.

Now we are. Here on the SAB blog, we’ll give you a glimpse into the workings of a small group of creative, innovative, engaged people (that’s the SAB staff!). We’ll ask you questions. We’ll answer your questions. We’ll talk about the latest industry news. We’ll let you know when we’re traveling, and talk about who we meet and what we learn. We'll showcase our authors and illustrators. And as we grow, there will be more and more information that you can find only on the Stone Arch Books blog.

We’re excited to be here. Thanks for letting us be part of the conversation. Check back often; we have lots more to say.