We’ve got some exciting news to share: Lee & Low Books has acquired children’s book publisher Shen’s Books. This is a new milestone for us: we published our first book twenty years ago and are thrilled that two decades later, we continue to grow and maintain our commitment to diversity in children’s books.Originally based in California, Shen’s Books was founded as a retailer in 1985 and began publishing books in 1997. Its books emphasize cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia. Titles include the popular Cora Cooks Pancit, about a young girl cooking up a favorite Filipino dish with her mother, and the Cinderella series, which features retellings of the Cinderella story from cultures around the world.
When we first created Lee & Low’s twitter account about three years ago, I had to write up a short description of who we are. I wrote: “Hannah talks about the goings-on of an indie children’s book publisher specializing in diversity.” But if you visit our twitter account today, you’ll notice that the word “indie” is missing. It’s not that we’ve been bought by a bigger company – we’re still as independent as ever. But over the past several months, I’ve noticed that the meaning of the phrase “indie publisher” has shifted from referring to smaller, independent publishers who are not part of the “Big Six” to referring to self-publishers.
Wondering how widespread the change in meaning was, I decided to put the question to the masses on twitter. When I asked what people thought of when they heard the term “indie publisher,” a few still said they thought it referred to a small press, independently owned and often with a niche focus. But the majority said something along these lines:
Although the shift in meaning seemed recent to me, upon digging I found that it’s actually been around for quite some time. The book Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book was released in 2008, and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, which have been around for five years, have always included self-published books.