(from the Keene Public Library)
One of the things we talk about infrequently that generates quite a few book sales is course adoptions.
What is a course adoption? It's when a teacher decides to include one of our books in their course curriculum. They'll say, 'Wouldn't this make an interesting springboard to discuss the war in Afghanistan in my Georgraphy of Internal Conflicts course?' and include it in the list of books they require their students to read. As you may imagine, this generates some sales.
(And then it tends to continue to generate sales, because if the book they adopt works and the students like it, the professor will continue to teach the class the next year [or on alternate years], and an entirely new group of students must acquire and read the book. Students, it turns out, almost always like graphic novels!)
I honestly don't know how much this avenue of revenue-generation would be working for First Second without American Born Chinese — the Printz Award being given to a graphic novel was such a landmark event for the children's book world that lots of the MLS courses (Library Science degrees) and Children's Literature courses added it right on to their next semester's required reading.
Then the next semester they came back again to us saying things like, 'We should really have a class day dedicated to graphic novels! What do you recommend?' Usefully we had Laika and Robot Dreams to give them at that point — and many more books down the line.
Since then we've been publishing books like Drawing Words and Writing Pictures and The Photographer and Koko Be Good that have been adopted in more topical classes — things like drawing and politics and women's studies.
The people in the Academic Marketing department at our parent company, Macmillan, who kindly keep track of this sort of thing for us, tell me that we've had over 1,000 course adoptions for our books. Multiply that by the number of people/class, and that adds up to a very solid amount of books.
First Second's graphic novels: coming soon to a classroom near you.
(This blog post was inspired by the fact that we got our first course adoption for Americus today. Yay that book! It is not even published yet and already it is being picked up for classroom use. Huzzah!)
(P.S. If you are a teacher and considering adopting one of our books for your class, we give desk copies! Just send me e-mail: )