Applewood Books is a book publishing company founded by Phil Zuckerman in 1976. They specialize in publishing exacting recreations of historic books, including complex reprints of children's art and pop-up books and other books published by methods which duplicate antique publishing techniques. They have more than 2000 titles in print. In recent years, the company has been working to increase the number of reprints it publishes. In 2007, the company published over 300 titles.
The company was named after the founder's grandparents Harry Apple and Lillian Apple. From 1976 to 1981, the company published young writers who were not yet recognized: Alan Cheuse, Eric Kraft, Julia Marcus, and Richard Currey, among others. An Applewood advertising poster from 1979 declared, "A Bushel of New Writers for a new Generation of Readers." In 1984, after near bankruptcy from the publication of a picture book on griffins, the company began to focus on "Books from America's Living Past." The first book they published under the new program was The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child. This was published as a joint venture with a book sales representative, George Dawson, who later did a number of books with the company and began to publish under his own imprint. In 1985, Applewood published The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin which formed the basis for their "Books of American Wisdom" series, which still today remains a distinctive brand for the company. In 1987, the company entered into a joint venture with Affiliated Publications owners, at the time, of the Boston Globe and Globe Pequot Press. Globe Pequot began to distribute and finance Applewood titles. In 1990, the company did a reprint of the 1939 publication of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May, and in 1992 they published the same author's newly discovered sequel Rudolph's Second Christmas. Over the next ten years, the company sold 3.5 million copies of Rudolph books and tapes. In 1991, the company began reprinting juvenile series books. In 1992, they began reprinting early Disney reproductions. In 1994, they printed over 11 million copies of a pamphlet inspired by its Sketchbook of Bambi. In 1993, the company discontinued its relationship with Globe Pequot, purchasing back its inventory and selling its own books into museum and gift shops across the country and using Consortium Book Sales & Distribution for its representation to book stores. In 2005, the company became the first publisher to join Ingram Publisher Services, a new distribution company set up by the Ingram Companies, the largest book wholesaler in the world. This enabled Applewood to scale up its publishing program, dramatically increasing the number of titles it publishes.
Although Applewood Books initially had success with reprints of primary source books like Mourt's Relation, Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, and What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, since 1991, the company has made a name for itself with reprints of 19th and 20th-century children's books like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Mickey Mouse Pop-Up Book. In addition, they have developed a strong following for their reprints of juvenile novels like the Nancy Drew Mystery series and cookbooks by classic authors like Hannah Glasse, Lydia Maria Child, Eliza Leslie, Abby Fisher, Caroline Trask Norton and Karen Hess. In the 1990s, Applewood published exact facsimiles of the first 5 HARDY BOYS Detective stories, complete with original cover art dustjackets, title page plates, and typeset from each titles original publishing dates [1927-1935] Recently, in 2007, they developed, with the Library of Congress an extensive collection of historical travel memoirs from the 18th and 19th centuries and the typewritten Slave Narratives from member of the Federal Writer's Project. Because of the company's interest in cookbooks as documents of social history, in December 2007, they launched a culinary website, Foodsville, a social network for people interested in cookbooks and culinary history. This is a joint project between Applewood Books and Hewlett Packard. Currently, on the site, there are many cookbooks published before the 1930s all available for reading online, adding margin notes, and for purchase.
Applewood Books acquired Commonwealth Editions in August 2010.