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Kata Editor. Kata as a disaster. The very young house, founded in 2019 by Luca Palladino, publishes children’s books to sensitize its young readers to ecological and social issues.
The start of the first two titles, How to make a bike out of a banana and The Stone Crusherwas scheduled for April 6, 2020. The third, scheduled for fall 2020, would detail the aftermath of a pandemic in a not-too-distant Montreal.
That banana was printed in 1500 copies. That biteraround 2000.
“We were ambitious, optimistic,” recalls Luca Palladino.
But the pandemic, the real one, struck first. The launch never took place. Bookstores have closed. The precious fairs and festivals of children’s books have been cancelled.
A publishing house
On May 25, 2022, Luca Palladino welcomes us to what he calls the “headquarters” of his publishing house.
A publishing house, you could say.
He lives at the heart of his business. And his business is at the heart of his life.
In the dining room of their Montreal apartment, his partner Patricia carries their little baby Orion, 8 months old, in her arms. Another project done during the pandemic.
Something has clearly changed since the last interview two years ago: he introduces us to his communications director, Cloé Lavoie, his first employee, who was hired part-time last autumn. She had started working with Kata as a freelancer in February 2020.
recession and depression
What has happened since May 2020?
At the time, Luca Palladino had set up an online sales site and was hoping for bookstores to reopen soon.
“It was super daunting,” he recalls, while Cloé agrees. “I would honestly tell you that I went into a mini-depression for three or four months. »
When he received the first sales results after bookstores reopened in August 2020, his morale took a steep curve as did his sales.
This time he uses the reverse formula: “It was super encouraging. It gave us a boost. »
He points to the album How to make a bike out of a banana, placed on the coffee table in the living room. “We’ve had good sales, especially with this book, which has become a classic for us and the public. »
Excerpt from the article of May 13, 2020
In March, his distribution partner announced that he would be closing his warehouse, which housed all of the publisher’s short productions.
Luckily, Luca Palladino had just picked up 750 copies of his books that he had deposited […] his residence in Montreal.
The 750 pounds
Shortly before imprisonment paralyzed his mailing list, he had stored 750 books in his apartment.
When the bookstores reopened, did he return the books to the distributor?
“No…” he begins.
He then nervously grabs one of the books on the coffee table and knocks over the coffee cup that was on it. The subject seems sensitive. The explanation will come after repairing the damage.
The boxes that are still stored at his home are filled with copies The Stone Crusherwhose disappointing sales took on the color of failure in his eyes.
When you start a small business, you want to succeed. A room full of books is never a sign of success. That’s the sensitive part.
Luca Palladino, owner and publisher of Kata Edition
Cloé Lavoie corrects him immediately: “It’s not a failure, it’s a book that’s still selling. »
Symbolic of the publishing industry’s uncertainty, the third title to explore a pandemic-devastated Montreal, published in fall 2020 in illustrated novel form, was an unexpected success. “It appealed to teenagers,” says Luca Palladino. It was different and we didn’t expect that at all. Every time we publish a book now, we do it with a little more humility and say to ourselves: We’ll see and we’ll reprint it. »
After 2020 marked by the pandemic, 2021 was the year of transition, according to the publisher.
He met his first flesh-and-blood readers at the Montreal Youth Literature Festival in August 2021.
“It gave me so much energy to meet people! he throws. When you see a child choosing a book it gives you so much information about what type of reader they are, what their tastes are, how it works in their mind. And sometimes you don’t understand anything. »
2021 added six titles to the first three titles released in 2020.
But then another catastrophe loomed: the eruption of the paper. Or its price, more precisely. ” Long before we talk about inflation,” says Luca Palladino.
However, he is determined not to print at a discount in China. Apart from his first two titles, which were printed in Latvia, all his works are produced in Quebec.
Fortunately, other publishers have invited him to join a group that allows them to publish at a lower cost.
“We haven’t changed the price of our books, he assures us, even though the price of paper increases by 10% every three months. »
The year 2022 is more of a year of chaos, he says.
1ah Last January, Luca Palladino officially became the owner of Éditions Planète rebelle, which specializes in storytelling and orality, often in the form of audio book CDs.
“Rebel Planet has been on sale since September and could not find a buyer. I have contacted [la propriétaire] Marie-Fleurette Beaudoin and it happened very quickly. We had addicted Atoms. Me, I come from a Quebec folk background, in a different life. I have been dancing and choreographing folk dance for 20 years. »
Marvel in the living room of the book or the apartment.
“I’m learning at the same time! laughs Cloé Lavoie.
Winter 2022 was dedicated to taming this new hybrid with a catalog of around 230 titles.
The two collaborators of Planète rebelle joined Cloé Lavoie and Anne-Laure Jean, artistic director of Kata, in November 2021.
“Before, Kata was a team of freelancers. Now we are a well-rehearsed team with four employees. I don’t even believe it when I say it,” exclaims Luca Palladino as little Orion voices his approval in the background.
He will pick up copies of his next two books: Camille the cow and Eglantine’s Garden.
“The new thing is that when you open the cover pages you can see that there is documentary information,” he describes, leafing through it.
This information refers to ecological and responsible cultivation.
Because it is important to prevent a food disaster.