Monday, 6 March 2017

Ruby Flies Again! – RUBY THE DUCKLING new editions

All three of the Ruby books are now available in new Hatchling Books editions

The children’s book business is exactly that – a business – and if sales begin to tail off for a book, a publisher will often decide to take it out of print. Any stock that remains in the warehouse is sold off at a heavily discounted price for sale in bargain bookshops and the book disappears from bookseller’s databases. As I write this, a little under half of my books are out of print. Every now and again a publisher may decide to delight an author by putting an out-of-print book back into print. However this a relatively rare occurrence and – generally speaking – when a publisher tells me that they are taking one of my books out of print I’ve learnt to take it in my stride and focus on getting new books published.

“Generally speaking” that’s what I do – but some books are harder to let fall by the wayside than others. Over the last few years all three of the Ruby the Duckling books, written by me and illustrated by Rebecca Harry, have gone out of print. Both Rebeca and I were especially sorry to see these books go, so we decided to make an effort to put all three books back into print again.

One of the reasons I was personally keen to do this is that I’ve received more emails and letters about the first Ruby book, Ruby Flew Too! (titled Ruby in Her Own Time in the US) than any of my other books. Readers from all over the world have written to me to tell me how Ruby’s tale has touched their lives and given them comfort in what have often been extremely trying circumstances.

A spread from the new edition of Ruby Flew Too! Ruby’s story has touched the lives of readers all over the world.

Having done a bit of research and read a few articles like this one, Rebecca and I decided to re-publish the books as print-on-demand editions using Amazon’s Createspace service.

Although Rebecca and I owned the rights to the book’s text and illustrations, the typography and title lettering design of the original editions belonged to the original publisher, so we had to re-typeset the spreads (using open licence fonts) and create new title lettering for the covers. The typesetting of the new editions is similar to the originals as the text placement has to fit into the gaps in Rebecca’s original illustrations, but we took the opportunity to make a few changes here and there. Some of the spreads have been cropped slightly wider to show a little more of Rebecca’s artwork and we’ve added in a book plate page at the front and an “About the Author and Illustrator” page at the back. As such, the new editions could be seen as being the “Director’s Cut” versions of the books.

A spread from the new edition of Go For It, Ruby! The text has been re-typset and some of the spreads have been cropped slightly wider to show a little more of Rebecca’s artwork.

We did the first book on its own as a trial run and agreed that if either of us weren’t happy with the printed proof copy we would not make it, or any of the other books available. So when the proofs eventually arrived through the post, we were both relieved and impressed by the quality of the printing and binding.

We were impressed by the print quality of the new print-on-demand editions.

All three books are now available under the specially-created imprint of Hatchling Books. Rebecca has designed this lovely new logo …

… and we’ve set up a web site at where you can find out about the books and download these free Ruby activity sheets. There's a colouring sheet, a board game, a spot the difference and a maze.

The whole exercise has been a bit of an experiment for Rebecca and myself. We’re hoping that books will continue to sell without a mainstream publisher to promote them, but only time will tell! We’d love to think that by making them available in this way, Ruby’s story will continue to entertain, inspire and comfort new readers.

One of my favourite spreads from the new edition of This Way, Ruby!

The books are available for £6.99, $9.99 Or €8.99 each through Amazon’s UK, US and European stores. US buyers can also purchase them at a 15% discount through the Hatchling Books eStore.

Click here to go to the Hatchling books web site


  1. Thanks, Jonathan, as one of the many authors with out of print picture books, I found this very interesting. Good luck, here's hoping Hatchling Books new editions take off fully fledged, let us know how it goes.

  2. Thanks, Jane. Will keep you posted!

  3. Hi Jonathan, I'd be interested to know how you get on. I've just done something similar with Baby Goz, but as a flap book, it couldn't be printed on demand. I had it printed in HK by Wing King Tong. A bit of a learning curve. publication was last week. I have got it stocked by Gardners and the libraries have begun ordering and I've just done the Book Week visits which went well.

    1. I might do an update blog at some point when I have some idea of sales. Good luck with the new Baby Goz editions!

  4. Thanks for this post Jonathan. A really worthwhile exercise and congrats on Hatchling Books... great name. Just wondering though, did you have Rebecca's original artwork? One of my books that I'd like to reprint, has had its original artwork sold in bits and pieces. I was told scanning the original book wouldn't produce good enough images. So am interested to know what you did.

    1. Rebecca did have all of her original artwork and she looked into having it rescanned, but in the end we were able to obtain the original scans from the book's original publisher. If your original publisher has them on file, it's worth asking if you can buy a copy of them as it may be cheaper and will save you the bother of having them re-scanned.

  5. Thanks for this. It was a LONG time ago and the original publishers were DIAL in the US. I suppose its worth a try if the illustrator feels up to it. Having the original files back I'm sure is always a good idea.