Q&A with Nosy Crow CEO Kate Wilson

By   Hannah Bickerton 2 min read

Kate is the Group CEO at the independent children’s publishing company, Nosy Crow. She has worked in publishing for 37 years, mainly in children’s books, including senior management roles at Macmillan Children’s Books and as Group MD of Scholastic UK Ltd.

 

1. You founded Nosy Crow back in 2010. How different does the children’s book publishing landscape look now by comparison?

I am amazed by the resilience of print publishing! When Nosy Crow was founded it felt as if the drift to digital reading was inevitable and proximate, but we are still thinking carefully about paper stock and cover finishes and the limits of what you can do with some pieces of paper or board or card bound together.

Thinking of cover finishes, I think that we are focussing much more on the complex balance of child appeal and durability (especially for books for the youngest readers whose interaction with books includes chewing them) with sustainability. We are, for example, engaged with Publishers Association and IPG bodies focussing on sustainability and are members of the Book Chain Project.

Another area of increased focus is diversity and inclusivity: we recognise, for example, the importance of providing the third of primary school-age children whose carers identify them as not white with authentic mirrors for their experience.

2. In those early days you were winning awards for apps as well as books. What does the digital future look like for children’s publishers?

I’ve said that I am amazed by the resilience of print. Audio is a growth area for us, and our Stories Aloud programme, which provides a free audio reading with every paperback picture book, accessible by scanning a QR code, drives our picture book sales and combines print and digital: we saw over 2 million Stories Aloud streams last year.

Meanwhile, AI is a new frontier, offering opportunities and challenges: ask me again about the balance in a year or so…!

3. You worked for a number of large corporates before setting up your own publishing company. What advice would you give anyone thinking about a similar move in the future?

Have, or have access to, about twice as much money as you think you’ll need. Don’t be a primary or sole carer for kids, parents or dogs: you won’t have time. Be proud if you survive: many don’t.

4. Nosy Crow has grown hugely internationally over the past ten years. What’s been the secret behind your publishing developments in different overseas markets?

My background is rights and, from the start, Nosy Crow’s outlook was international. We travel a lot: at the time of writing four of us attended the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair, and one of us, recently returned from Brazil, is off to the Guadalajara Book Fair. This commitment to getting out there and seeing customers in their own markets continues to pay off in export, rights and co-edition sales.

Meanwhile we are proud to have launched Nosy Crow Inc in March 2023, publishing in North America and, frankly, exceeding our sales expectations.

5. Tell us about a Nosy Crow book we should be buying or reading this Christmas.

So many! But if I have to pick just one, it’s the Waterstones Book of the Year shortlisted poetry anthology, A Whale of a Time: A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year.

 

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.