5 questions with San Diego’s Printers Row Publishing Group

The Sorrento Valley-based publishing group has been around for 30+ years — read all about it.

SD Printers Row Publishing Group Q+A

Debra Mostow Zakarin and Peter Norton of Printers Row Publishing shared their company’s story with SDtoday.

Photos via Printers Row Publishing Group; graphic by 6AM City

SDtoday readers, gather ‘round. This is the story of Printers Row Publishing Group (PRPG), a Sorrento Valley-based company captivating readers of all ages for the past 30+ years.

A division of Readerlink Distribution Services, PRPG is known for its interactive children’s books, activity kits, and classic literature — packaged in exciting, market-driven ways. The company houses seven imprints and creates book ideas in-house with its talented writers and editors. They are proud San Diegans, living, working, and contributing to our communities.

We chatted with VP/Publisher Peter Norton and Publisher/Senior Director of Children’s Publishing Debra Mostow Zakarin about the business. Turn the page.

SD Printers Row Publishing Group Sorrento Valley Office

PRPG’s headquarters in Sorrento Valley.

Q: How many books do you currently have in print?
A: [Mostow Zakarin] We have a little over 1,000 books currently in print, across all of the imprints.

Q: Walk us through some of your imprints:
A: [Norton] Thunder Bay is primarily a crafts and activity-based imprint. We’ve grown significantly in licensing over the last four years, so we work with a lot of the big names. Some new licenses are “Stranger Things,” “Nightmare Before Christmas,” and Bob Ross is huge for us.

Portable Press is best known for the “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.”

Canbury Classics features a $25 leather-bound classics line and we’re launching a new series, Crafted Classics, offering books that are embroidered on the covers. We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve with books and make them tactile and beautiful.

Canelo US is a partnership with a fiction publisher from the UK.

A: [Mostow Zakarin] For Silver Dolphin, we’re always trying to develop interactive books. We have picture books and chapter books, but we’re really known for having a lot of ‘book plus’ — touch and feel flaps, movable parts — ways to have children utilize their fine motor skills.

Q: We saw you at Comic-Con over the summer — do you typically host a booth at the convention?
A: [Norton] This was our first year hosting a booth, and we loved it. It’s great to interact with locals and the fans, and we plan to partner next year with a local bookstore to help sell some of our books there.

SD Printers Row titles

A couple of popular titles to readers ages 6-8 from Printers Row.

Q: Where can San Diegans buy your books?
A: [Norton] Wherever books are sold in San Diego — Barnes & Noble, Warwick’s, Verbatim Books, smaller local bookstores, and big stores like Walmart and Target. San Diego is a great reading town.

Q: What should we be reading right now — can you each share a favorite title?
A: [Mostow Zakarin] I just finished reading “Wish” — Disney is coming out with a movie on that story. I borrowed “The Complete Novels of Jane Austen” from our office sample closet, and I’m reading Geraldine Brooks’ “Horse” novel.

A: [Norton] I was an English major, so I read most of the classics while I was in school and over the years. Now my reading tastes have changed more into non-fiction type of stuff and our annual Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader just published — “Uncle John’s Weird, Wonderful World Bathroom Reader.” You can dip in and out of all these little articles; it’s all trivia. For me, it’s a wonderful way to learn a little something, have a little laugh — it’s fun.

Mostow Zakarin and Norton attributed PRPG’s success to their “extraordinarily creative” in-house teams. As they continue to grow, Norton said their top priority is innovation and looking for ways to engage with the readers and families buying their books — whether it’s the classics with different treatments or interactive titles.

“We’re always striving to do cool things,” Norton added. “And be innovative and create.”

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