Coming Attraction: Stayed Tuned for the 3D Pop-Up!
Dawn Publications will be piloting what Glenn Hovemann calls the “electronic equivalent to the pop-up book” in early 2014. This exciting new technology allows children to experience the exquisite illustrations Dawn is known for in a whole new way.
The pilot book, which will be available in February 2014, will have a logo on the front referring readers to a QR code on the back cover. Readers can then scan the code for the option to purchase an inexpensive app. The app allows readers to look through a phone or iPad (the iPad is especially amazing, according to Glenn) and see certain images in 3D.
Don’t forget to check in with Dawn Publications in early 2014 for more information!
Publishing Profiles: Glenn Hovemann of Dawn Publications
The Journey Continues for Dawn’s Editor
For Glenn Hovemann, editor and co-publisher of Dawn Publications, a typical day at the children’s publishing company (previously reviewed here and here by IP) is all about balance. Now that he and Muffy Weaver—Dawn’s manager, co-publisher, and Glenn’s wife—have reached their sixth decade, they allow themselves a four-day workweek. When he’s at the office, Glenn’s day is full of more balancing; trying to stay within two months on manuscript reviews, and keeping up with what Glenn describes as the “regular flow” of business. These days, much of that flow has to do with the coordination of vendors, drawing of contracts, and formatting that goes along with producing eBooks.
Prior to 1993, when Glenn became the first ever editor of Dawn Publications, his typical workday looked much different than it does now. Depending on what chapter in his career you inquire about, you may hear about his work in the publicity department of the American Friend Society, about what it was like to found an intentional community, or about the daily hustle of a major law firm. Sandwiched between Glenn’s current publishing work and his early days as editor-in-chief of both his high school paper at Brooklyn Tech and his college paper, the Minnesota Daily, is a unique journey that eventually led him to Dawn.
After college, Glenn continued writing and editing as an Op-Ed columnist for the Minneapolis Star and eventually entered the publishing department at the American Friend Society. After working for the Quakers, Glenn chose a path outside publishing world: he started an intentional community on a 288-acre ranch in Oregon. The community of twenty-five subsisted through small businesses including mail delivery and a medical clinic, and “though we did have a bookstore,” Glenn told me, “there was no publishing.”
After nine years in the community, Glenn continued to pursue work outside of the publishing field. After getting married and having a child, he attended law school at the University of Oregon. During his time as a lawyer, Glenn worked for a Federal judge in Portland, joined a major law firm, and eventually set up his own practice. But law was not want Glenn wanted to do. “I was not enough of a self-promoter,” Glenn said about running his solo practice.
Glenn and his family packed up and moved from Oregon to California, and soon after he was offered the job of editor at Dawn Publications. When I asked if Glenn had been looking to get back into the world of publishing that he had left so many years earlier, he laughed and replied, “It was looking for me.” In what he describes as a “serendipitous” event, soon after moving to California Glenn found himself in conversation with the manager at Dawn, who just so happened to be looking to hire. Glenn began serving as editor in 1993, and he and Muffy bought the company in late 1994.
“I much prefer publishing to law,” Glenn told me. Though he does not consider himself a writer, Glenn said he “enjoys working with words and writers, and [enjoys] children’s material and nature.”
Glenn also enjoys working with his wife; so much so, in fact, that their desks sit side-by-side. Glenn describes his wife as “talented” and “business-minded” and he asks her opinion on manuscripts as often as she asks him about prospective illustrators. “We do it well as long as we have clearly defined roles,” Glenn told me.
It was Muffy who had the biggest opinion in the couple’s decision to keep the press small. “We could have made a bigger business and had a dozen titles a year or more, but we had four children. We needed to have a life,” said Glenn. Muffy was especially adamant about keeping the business small (they describe themselves as a publishing “boutique”) in order to maintain one-on-one relationships with authors and illustrators.
In addition to devoting so much time to authors and illustrators, Glenn, Muffy, and the entire team at Dawn are now devoting a good deal of time to eBooks. A look at Dawn’s website shows the company is keeping up with, and even ahead of the digital age (see the sidebar for a sneak peak). Dawn has a large social media community, offers learning apps, and produces traditional and fully interactive eBooks.
Glenn cites the recession of the last decade as the catalyst for Dawn’s digital integration. “The recession was tough; there was uncertainty and sales were down. If we were going to survive, we needed to rethink the business,” Glenn recalled. The company trimmed down their operations and decided to address the uncertainty of the marketplace by going with the most advanced products in the market. The company hired a full-time digital developer, which was a big deal for the company; at the time they had just five full-time staff members. Dawn took the big step to eBooks fully realizing that many people will be reading books to their children at bedtime, and there would still be a demand for paper books. Libraries and schools, however, have been pushing eBooks, so Glenn has kept the company’s foot in both trade and education.
The journey continues for Glenn. After a surprising and serendipitous path to Dawn Publications, he now leads the company on a journey of its own; integrating the most advanced learning technology into their children’s nature books. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Glenn told me when I asked what inspired him to continue this work. “I love the people I work with. I can’t imagine doing anything better.”
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Katharine Zurek graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English and Women's Studies. She currently works in the social service field. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.