Children’s publisher West Side Publishing is launching a new imprint, Little Grasshopper Books, likely by the end of the year. The imprint will encompass a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction formats, from board books to books with virtual-reality components, primarily aimed for children five and under.
The new imprint marks West Side Publishing owner Lou Weber’s re-entry into the world of children’s books. As president and founder of Publications International (PIL), a publisher of automotive titles, cookbooks, inspirational formats, and brain games and puzzle books, Weber was long involved in children’s publishing—especially licensed sound books and interactive formats—until PIL sold its children’s publishing unit to Chinese-owned company Phoenix International Publications in 2014. The latter continues to operate the business under the PI Kids name.
West Side Publishing focuses on children’s books and is a separate company from PIL, but the two entities share resources, according to Weber. “Children’s books have always been a love of mine, and after building PIL back up, I felt I needed a new challenge,” Weber said. “The name West Side represents something emotional for me. I grew up on the West Side of Chicago, some 80 years ago, and it was a close community with a lot of interaction between parents and kids.”
The new imprint’s list is still in development, but “it will be substantial, and it will be a mixture of everything,” reports Weber. There may be some licensed titles, but no deals are in place to date. “I’m not closing the door on it if the right opportunity comes up.” Ultimately West Side Publishing expects to publish 150 children’s titles a year. “It’s no small enterprise,” Weber promises.