Founded in late 2011 by group of digital publishing veterans, Trajectory is a digital publisher and technology developer based in Cambridge, Mass. The company recently released digital editions of the original Classics Illustrated comics line and plans digital editions of the previously unpublished works of the late sculptor and children’s author Stephen Huneck.
Jim Bryant, cofounder and CEO of Trajectory, said the company was founded by a group of digital publishing professionals who have been “working together on and off for more than 20 years.” Founding members of Trajectory include Bryant, Trajectory publisher Scott Beatty, COO Bob Collins, CTO Terry Schussler, director of marketing Maura Phelan and project manager Deb Beatty, “altogether, we’ve got more than 100 years of experience in book publishing,” quipped Bryant.
Bryant said Trajectory is focused on the digital distribution of “illustrated kids’ publishing,” as well as international digital distribution of is content. In addition to seeking out material that it can release in digital form, Bryant said the company has been “building production systems that let us distribute and customize content with the push of a button,” noting that he just released all of Trajectory’s titles to be sold through a South African retailer. Trajectory also distributes its titles through retailers in Australia, New Zealand, India, the U.K., and a number of Eastern European countries with more to come.
“The world is curious about the West,” Bryant said, emphasizing their focus on international distribution, “and our titles will help them learn about us.” He said, “Overseas more than 50% of people read on their phones,” and, noting their focus on children’s content, “kids are growing up digital and they read online or on mobile devices and we think Classics Illustrated comics will engage them.”
The company recently acquired the digital rights to the original Classics Illustrated line of comics, first created in the 1941 by Albert Kanter, and have made 123 full-color original CI comics available digitally through the Apple mobile platform and through e-book retailer Kobo and its Kobo Vox tablet e-reader. Trajectory has also released a Spanish-language edition of one of the Classics Illustrated titles, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, now available through the Apple iBookstore.
Also just released in June was Sally Goes to Heaven, the first digital release of an original story by the late sculptor and children’s illustrator Huneck. Trajectory has published digital editons of the seven original titles in Huneck’s Sally picture book series, starring Huneck’s black labrador Sally and illustrated with his woodcuts. Sally Goes to Heaven is the eigth title in the series, a digital-first original and the first in a series of at least five previously unpublished original Huneck stories that Trajectory, working in collaboration with Huneck’s widow, will release in digital editions this year. “We’ll be releasing a new book in the series every six weeks or so,” Bryant said, adding that the company is looking for partners interested in producing print editions. Trajectory has also created two Stephen Huneck Puzzles, digital games using Huneck’s artwork that Bryant said will be included in future releases of his e-books.
Bryant said the group began working together during the CD-ROM era, launching the firm ProCD Inc. in 1990, which was sold in 1996. (ProCD was also part of a 1996 landmark legal decision that upheld the legality of the software’s “shrink wrap license,” a click-on license in CD-ROM software that prevented copyright violations.) In 1997 Bryant worked to acquire InfoPlease, an almanac line from Houghton Mifflin, and relaunched it as an online platform for children and the parents to get support for homework, eventually selling the site to Pearson. “It was an easy-to-use place to find answers really quick and it was a lot of fun for parents and kids,” Bryant said. Although Bryant said that InfoPlease’s focus was on digital, the company also partnered (1997-2002) with Time Inc. and ESPN to produce print works based on InfoPlease content.
“We’re at a point where things are changing rapidly but publishing is still in the stone age when it comes to business models,” said Bryant, who said to expect new business announcements from Trajectory shortly. “There are great opportunities in digital publishing and we’re looking into new e-book models that can work on a global basis.”