Pelican Publishing Company enjoys national recognition as a rapidly growing medium-sized company with a backlist of over 2,500 titles and 50-60 new titles produced yearly. As a general trade publisher, Pelican produces travel guides, art and architecture books, Christmas books, local and international cookbooks, motivational and inspirational works, and children’s books, as well as a growing number of social commentary, history, and fiction titles.Pelican is a family-owned business. Kathleen Calhoun Nettleton is President and Publisher, and co-owner of the company with her mother, Nancy Calhoun, who serves as treasurer and vice president of special promotions. She often lectures at national publishing conferences and was frequently a faculty member of the Denver Publishing Institute. She is a former president of the Publishers Association of the South. In 1998 the Calhoun’s were awarded the Robin Mays Award, the Association’s highest award for southern publishing. James Calhoun, Kathleen's uncle, who served as executive editor until his retirement in 1990, is currently special projects editor. In 1995 Carl Nettleton joined the family and the firm when he married Kathleen. He is currently the Information Systems Director using his background in computers. Publisher Kathleen Calhoun Nettleton has served as a board member for PAS and on the Small Press Steering Committee for AAP. Pelican’s sales manager, Joseph Billingsley, is a past president for PAS and serves on the NOGSBA board.
Dr. and Mrs. Calhoun began collecting books many years ago. This interest developed Bayou Books, a mail-order rare and out-of-print book business. When they moved to New Orleans, Bayou Books was opened as a retail bookstore. Because the shop was known nationally as a specialist in books on Louisiana, customers across the country used its services.In 1970, the Calhouns acquired Pelican Publishing House from Betty and Hodding Carter and restored its name to Pelican Publishing Company. Its history embraces such names as William Faulkner, whose first trade publication was published by Pelican, Stuart O. Landry, whose vision kept the company alive from 1926 to 1966, and the Calhoun family, who expanded a small, ailing regional publishing house into an internationally successful company.
During their first year as Pelican’s owners, the executive board members established a ten-year plan of development. The Calhouns saw their sales double every year during this period, reaching into all fifty states. The company is presently the largest independent trade book publisher in the South.Pelican began its physical expansion in 1980, moving to a former church building on the West Bank of the Mississippi River across from New Orleans. In 1996, Pelican added a satellite office in Florida. However, New Year’s Eve 1997 brought the most dramatic and unexpected change; fire totally destroyed the building that housed Pelican’s offices and approximately half of its stock of books. Yet the owners and staff were determined to forge ahead and secured new offices and equipment.
The first few months of 1998 brought even better news as Pelican recorded its most productive February ever and announced the acquisition of permanent office and warehouse space in Gretna in a former bottling plant. The warehouse moved into the facility in 1999. The remaining staff moved into their new offices in the fall of 2000. Hurricane Katrina provided another challenge to both the physical plant and the staff with the damage to the facility and all staff being affected in various ways.
Pelican International is a wholly owned subsidiary founded in 1985 with headquarters in Saipan. It is represented in the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. A regular attendee at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Pelican has enlarged its growing market of foreign rights sales and purchases. Pelican’s motivational titles by Zig Ziglar (See You at the Top) and Dr. Walter Doyle Staples (Think Like a Winner!) lead the entry into markets in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa. Additionally, Pelican continues its acquisition of foreign titles for U.S. publication.See You at the Top is a special title among Pelican’s list due to its having the highest sales of any Pelican title. To celebrate the 25th anniversary, a revised edition was published in 2000.
In addition to Zig Ziglar, Pelican counts many other well-known professionals among its authors. Justin Wilson, who helped to generate the Cajun cooking craze, was the author of eight books for Pelican, including Justin Wilson Looking Back: A Cajun Cookbook, the subject of a national cooking show, which drew on his more than three decades of experience. The prolific James Rice was the creator of over sixty books, including the classic Cajun Night Before Christmas. He was considered one of the nation’s top children’s writers and illustrators, with nearly two million copies of his books in print. This series and the Gaston® character have expanded to plush toys, Christmas ornaments, notecards, and postcards. Mary Alice Fontenot, author of the acclaimed Clovis Crawfish Series, has spread Cajun culture and swamp environmental study to children throughout the world. In 1998 she received the Acadiana Arts Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pelican is also known for its diverse and thorough travel books. The Maverick Guide Series, for the traveler who values choice, covers destinations as diverse as Scotland and Australia. One of the crowning achievements for the series was the first-place travel journalism award given to The Maverick Guide to Hawaii by the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe and Traveling the Eurail Express are additional guides that continuously delight travelers worldwide. The Irish Bed & Breakfast Book and other similar books are featured in paper editions and on their own Web site at www.bedandbreakfastguide.com with more entries being added.
Pelican is also known for its high-quality art books and a series of books on children’s-book illustrators. These include the new Mardi Gras Treasures series from Henri Schindler, New Orleans Architecture Series, and three books by Patricia Hall, the world’s foremost expert on Johnny Gruelle and his creations. The Real-For-Sure Story of Raggedy Ann is the most recent title by Patricia Hall with Joni Gruelle Wannamaker, Gruelle’s granddaughter, providing the illustrations. Artist and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats is the subject of Ezra Jack Keats: Artist and Picture-Book Maker by Brian Alderson, children’s-books reviewer for The Times of London.
Pelican’s passion for politics has long been evident, as illustrated by Death at Chappaquiddick, by Richard and Thomas Tedrow, and Men and Marriage, by George Gilder. The theme continued with the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year series. A recent title in this area is The Chicken Little Agenda: Debunking “Experts’” Lies, by Robert G. Williscroft.
The Civil War and its aftermath have always been ripe topics for Pelican authors. One of Pelican’s perennial bestsellers is The South Was Right!, by twin brothers James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy. In it, they argue that states had a Constitutional right to secede and that the North unlawfully invaded the Confederacy. Other Civil War titles include Walter Brian Cisco’s War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Eddy Davison and Daniel Foxx’s Nathan Bedford Forrest: In Search of the Enigma, and Elizabeth Roberson’s Weep Not for Me, Dear Mother, which was selected by the Children’s Book Council as a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies.Pelican also prides itself on its involvement in professional publishing organizations.
For more information contact Antoinette de Alteriis, Promotion Director, at (504) 368-1175, 331.