A Fresno publishing house wants to give away one book for every one they sell, with the goal of 1 million of each in the next 10 years.
David and Stephanie Miles of Bushel & Peck Books believe they’re the first publishing house to adopt the one-for-one model made popular by other companies like TOMS. They’re asking for suggestions of Valley schools, programs and charitable organizations to send their books to, and considering national programs like Room to Read and the Pajama Project.
Bushel & Peck’s first offering of books includes “50 Real Heroes For Boys,” and “Yes You Can: 1,000 Women Who Proved that Women Can Do Anything,” as well as a singing book and an interactive book on the U.S. Constitution.
“The boys’ book has women heroes, as well, because we think it’s important to help teach boys respect and esteem for women,” David Miles said. “But all our books help kids believe they can be whatever they want to be, wherever they are socioeconomically.”
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The books are available via a Kickstarter campaign that launched in November.
Miles is an author who worked in publishing for six years, earning recognition from Publishers Weekly, before starting Bushel & Peck with his wife, a Valley native who is also a children’s book author.
Miles said he was bothered by the fact that a new children’s book can cost between $17 and $25 – prohibitive to low-income families.
“There are free book programs and donations, but they’re usually used books or cheaper paperbacks or something funny, which is fine, but we want to give away books that are not only beautiful, but offer something meatier, too,” Miles said.
He said the rates of book ownership among young people can be as low as one book for every 300 kids. Previously, The Bee found that when school libraries close over the summer, children in some parts of Fresno have access to fewer than three books each on average. Reduced access to books has been linked to the summer slide, a loss of learning that can put low-income students several reading levels behind their peers.
Miles said publishing just one book for children can take two years from concept to distribution. The couple intends to take on much of the planning, sourcing and sales themselves while commissioning writers and illustrators from around the world.
Bushel & Peck Books joins a handful of other publishing houses in the Valley, as well as a number of local children’s authors and illustrators. There are other publishers in town who publish children’s books, but usually alongside other genres, and past houses that focused on picture books and children’s literature have since closed, according to Dan Dunklee of A Book Barn in Clovis.
“There’s a growing literary community here. It’s just the two bookstores, and some used bookstores, but we have an educated, literate population and I think there’s a real interest in seeing more,” Miles said. “Hopefully having a publisher here can help.”