Friday, April 27, 2007

Immedium: Inspiring a Word of Imagination

Founded in San Francisco, California in 2004, Immedium is an independent publisher of wonderfully illustrated children’s books, and titles on Asian American topics and contemporary arts and culture. Currently, Immedium has less than 10 employees, who range from graphic designers, artists, editors, and administrative staff. Meet Oliver Chin, publisher of Immedium and accomplished author whose works include children’s books The Year of the Dog and The Adventures of Wonderbaby.

Preparation for Immedium
“As a cartoonist in college, I wanted to continue work in publishing and help spread ideas worth sharing. Then my work career became marketing and selling products from media companies, both large and small. I learned how products are created to satisfy a demand, target audiences, and build customer loyalty. But then I took the opportunity to write two books. This experience inspired me to return to my roots and build a publishing company based upon imaginative ideas that are well executed.”

Not Just For Children
“Though most of our books are categorized for young children (ages 4-8), Immedium also aims to please parents and gift-givers who appreciate being entertained when they read to kids.”

“However, we occasionally publish specialty titles, such Desert to Dream: A Decade of Burning Man Photography, which certainly attracted adults with an alternative/artistic attitude.”

“[B]ecoming parents motivated us to start Immedium. Once we started searching for good books to read to our children, we realized there was still room (and, more importantly from a parental perspective, need) to create stories that had stellar art, contemporary relevance, and timeless themes. [We are motivated to make] great books for kids and parents – ones that resonate with humor, understanding, and engaging art.”

Landing a Wholesale Account
“Immedium landed its first wholesale account before we actually incorporated. Trade distribution was essential to the business’ viability, so we submitted proposals, got multiple offers, and chose one. Once we inked that, we were off and running.”

Selling Books
“We sell through our web site ( as well as others like Amazon, which get books from distribution, or a few that work directly from us through consignment. We have done limited consignment, experimenting locally as well as with stores far away which have a compatible clientele.”

“[Aside from selling] through bookstores (traditional and online), [we] are actively building a network of specialty retailers and community associations.”

“[We market our products] through our distributors catalogs [and by contacting] specialty retailers directly to get orders.”

“[We also] contact news outlets and send press releases. [In addition,] we actively try to get out books reviewed (print and online) and set up author events. We are experimenting in keyword/search engine advertising.”

Challenges with Building a Company
“Beyond raising and committing the capital, every step is challenging: from coming up with a marketable concept and finding talented artists, to printing the books and convincing retailers and consumers to buy them. We can make the best titles ever, but if people don’t see them on store shelves, they may never know what they’re missing.”

“Being a small company, we lack the marketing, distribution, and sales of larger companies. We have to compensate by constantly building our own network of customers who value our products and help generate awareness.”

Recommended Business Resources
“The Small Business Administration is a good place to start. Generally, you need to read the trade media particular to your market, and keep abreast of social trends from your local newspaper and national periodicals.”

Artistic Inspiration
“[I am inspired by ] artists whom I work with. I enjoy befriending creators who really produce dazzling art and push me forward to share it with others.”

Words of Advice-Be Your Own Best Sales Person
“Beyond coming up with a salable concept, you can’t be afraid to contact people. If you think your product is worth buying, it is worth calling a stranger about or saying hello to someone in a store. You have to be your own best sales person, because you know your creation best.”
Publicity Department
P.O. Box 31846
San Francisco, CA 94131

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