Once upon a day in 2015, a grandmother and grandfather wanted to buy some bright colorful, fun, and educational books for their three-year-old granddaughter. They wanted books that would spark her imagination and be entertaining enough to capture her attention plus have words that not only an early reader could understand, but would challenge and grow with her reading and speech skills for several years. Just like the books, they had cherished as children, and that had driven them to a lifelong love of reading and learning.
When they got to the bookstore, they searched in the new books. The grandfather said these, “ these books are too bland”…the grandmother said, “these books are not educational and too simple.” So they roamed around and came upon the books that were almost ‘ just right’! Unfortunately, they were the same books that they and their parents had grown up reading; Classics like Dr. Suess, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and Rold Dahl. Knowing the generation, their granddaughter was growing up in they wanted to find books like these classics that also mirrored the bright, bold visuals that Disney Pixar was using, and that was such a favorite of hers. But there were none to be found in any of the bookstores that met their standard or criteria. So the grandfather who was a writer, and the grandmother who was very computer savvy decided to write some books for their granddaughter! Although this is a true story of how initially the Zaniac Books Series was born it was only the beginning of an emerging and utterly unique movement and business…Happy Dolphin Press.
I am Jennifer Smith, the grandmother in this story, and the owner and Editor in Chief of Happy Dolphin Press. When we started on our journey to create visually stunning, fun, engaging, and educational books, we discovered we were not alone. Many others were wanting to find the same type of books we wanted to publish, and there were also others wishing to publish their own books. However, the publishing industry has dwindled and limited their acceptance of children’s book publications to mostly those that are already tried and true, socially topical only, or merely fun fluff for early readers. The independent presses we dealt with made it hard to understand the process and didn’t offer just the services we needed without us investing exorbitant amounts of money in packages and inventory we were prepared to finance.
For over 20 years I have spent my life building, managing, and developing businesses through constantly learning new technology and business practices, developing services and products that fill gaps in those areas, and then creating and marketing those “gap fillers” to meet the need. When I personally experienced the lack of service and support that was available I reached out to other people in the industry and learned all I could from them about what solutions they found and still wanted. After a solid year of intense education through Adobe graphic design, one on one mentoring, and group classes and educational panels I struck out to publish my husband’s work, Zaniac Books.