Wednesday, May 18, 2011

American Girl Reaches 25 Years~

A lot has changed at American Girl in the 25 years since Pleasant Rowland launched a mail-order children's book publishing/doll manufacturing company with 15 employees in downtown Madison, Wis., marketing its products as quality alternatives to Barbie dolls. Despite the phenomenal growth of the company, however, executives maintain that one thing has never changed: books are an essential component to the company's mission of simultaneously educating and entertaining girls.

The company, originally founded as the Pleasant Company in 1986 and renamed American Girl Inc. in 2004, has become a publishing powerhouse, releasing more than 40 titles each year for girls ages 8–12, selling 135 million fiction and nonfiction books since 1986, according to American Girl. Besides books, dolls, and doll accessories, the company publishes American Girl magazine and produces movie versions of its books, including 2008's Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (with executive producer Julia Roberts). More than 550 of its 1,946 employees—50 of them dedicated to the book division—work out of its headquarters, a 560,000-square-foot complex in an office park in a Madison suburb. There are nine American Girl retail stores around the country, with two more opening soon: one in Seattle, the other in Washington, D.C.

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