7900 High School Rd, Elkins Park, PA

Our new “Meet the Publisher” series at Open Book Bookstore was inaugurated recently by the fantastic editorial team at Running Press, a publisher located right here in Philadelphia. We were pleased and grateful to have in attendance four senior members of the team:

  • Kristin Kiser: VP/Publisher, Running Press Adult, Running Press Kids, and Running Press Miniature Editions
  • Jennifer Kasius: Editorial Director Running Press Adult
  • Julie Matysik: Editorial Director Running Press Kids
  • Jennifer Leczkowski: Director of Miniature Editions and Licensing

I had asked them to come and talk about their work, how they decide what to publish, and what some of their favorite books are. They couldn’t have been more generous in sharing insights from their vast cumulative book publishing experience. All in attendance were enlightened and illuminated — and very lucky to be there!

If you missed it, I share below some of the things I learned that night. I also encourage you to come to our next Meet the Publisher event on January 11th with Jason Rekulak of Quirk Books. Sign up HERE.

As for what I learned from our Running Press Meet the Publisher night…

Running Press is known for innovative format and design. Their books look good and their design elements are original, and they have many products in alternate formats, such as the mini-kits, which are small booklets in a box with clever toys and/or other objects. Kiser calls the press “format forward,” i.e. format is equally as important as content. This is not true at most presses.

Jennifer Kasius joked about how she tends to wind up publishing books “with curse words in the title,” alluding to two phenomenal bestsellers she has shepherded into existence, Skinny Bitch, which, despite its edgy title, is a serious book about healthy eating that she says kicked off the recent popularity of veganism, and You Are a Badass, a very effective and popular self-help book.

Julie Matysik told us about what goes into making a kids’ book work, and showed us some of her favorite things, such as the stars that truly light up in their new Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and the mix of spot art and graphic novel in the middle grade novel Superfail.

Jennifer Leczkowski talked about how they sit around and come up with fun and original new ideas for their minikits, everything from licensed product (Harry Potter sorting hat and the pensieve! Pusheen! A Bob Ross bobble head!) to original (Feminist Flair is one of my faves) and how they are often caught by surprise at things they thought would be good ideas but they just didn’t anticipate what a huge success they would go on to be. Did you get your screaming goat mini kit yet?

All in all, Running Press has defined its own unique brand of successful publishing, with more hits promised to come!


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