CMC @LBF 2018 – Session Report: Disruptive Publishing

Posted on: Sunday 15 April 2018 11:17pm by Simon Bor

The not so “tongue in cheek” title of the session highlighted two companies who have not taken the traditional route into publishing. Moderator, Stephanie Barton saw parallels between the two companies. Both have only been around for a few years, both have a direct root to their customers, both cater for the under twelves and both have been on ‘Dragon’s Den’! Neither, though, had a background in publishing.

Jonny Pryn was one of the founders of One Third Stories which is just two years old.  The idea was to publish a language picture book, where (originally French) words were gradually added to the English text throughout the story. A slick Kickstarter presentation was made and the company found it had four times the amount of money needed to get started. It was a steep learning curve but now they sell fifteen titles, dedicated to introducing kids to a range of languages.  Boxes containing books, audio and flashcards, are sent to subscribers once a month. Everything is handled by their small team in Camden. Turn around for publishing (making the content for the boxes0 was just four weeks in the early days, but it’s now more like eight. Customers are at the centre of what they do and they know them by name. The aim is to produce books that are as beautiful as any other they may have, but that are also subtly educational.

Nick Marsh is head of product and design at Wonderbly, described as the world’s leading publisher of personalised picture books. They make “beautiful books about the children you know”.

‘The Little Boy Who Lost his Name’ is their biggest seller and they sell direct to the consumer from their website, They make their money from physical book sales, although you can make a digital version for free on the website.  They have sold three million books to date and have seventy employees, most of them in London. The latest project, in collaboration with the Roald Dahl estate, is ‘My Golden Ticket’, a journey to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, specially created for every child. Another new project is ‘The Power Within’ which they’ve been working on for two years. Any child, whoever they are, can find the power within and self-belief. You choose a super power that reflects a child you know and the book can carry a dedication to the child.

For both companies, the cost of marketing is high. Facebook and Google’s algorithms seem to work out how to charge them ever increasing amounts. They need to be able to hold onto the customers they have. Nick estimated about a third of customers come back for another sale, often the same book for another kid.

Tom Ballhatchet was unable to attend due to illness.

CMC@LBF 2018 Event Reports

Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor


Simon studied Animation at Farnham, and, more recently, was awarded an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University. He set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and has been involved in children’s television since the mid 1980s. As a writer, Simon has co-written and created several shows including Milkshake’s 'Funky Valley'. As a director and… Read more