Pratham Books Chats with Mark Waterfield from Moss Green Children’s Books
Moss Green Children’s Books is a relatively new enterprise which began towards the end of last year. Mark Waterfield, the founder, used to work for a multinational company earlier. After Mark retired, one thing led to another and before he knew it, he had started Moss Green Children’s Books.
But what motivated Mark to start this enterprise? Mark’s vision is to help raise awareness for the environment as well as to help children’s charities. His realization that a lot of money is donated to animal charities than children’s charities made him want to work in the education sector. “Education is critical and the green movement needed to be addressed through education”, says Mark. On seeing the difficulties charities encounter to raise money, his way of helping them was to sell books and raise money. Starting Moss Green Children’s Books in these financially difficult times was also an opportunity for Mark to give something back to the world. “If business ends up properly, I make more money for charities. It is painless giving”, says Mark.
So, what is different about this bookstore? This online bookstore donates 66% of its total profits to children’s charities every year. Parents and children can nominate the charities they want the proceeds to go to. Though the bookstore is not up yet, Mark has started his work by reviewing several children’s books on his blog. His short and insightful reviews end with a ‘green rating rank’ that he follows. Moss icons indicate whether a book is a touch green, a pinch green, light green, almost green or all green. ‘Winnie the Pooh’ gets ‘a touch green’ ranking as nature plays a role in the story but more as the background to the plot. On the other hand, ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ gets an ‘all green’ rating for describing the caterpillar’s fascinating full life cycle in an engaging manner, from an egg to a beautiful butterfly.
Once the bookstore is up, it will house all kinds of children’s books (not only ‘green’ books). Books in the store will be evaluated for how green the content is are and not for how green the book is. The business may not be viable if it was to sell only green books and Mark prefers that a parent buys any books rather than no book as that would increase the money raised for the charities.
As of now, the company is being run by Mark and his trustworthy computer which helps him blog, spread the word about his store and build collaborations. His supportive wife is helping him with the creative aspect. But, for the company to grow, Mark is calling for people to volunteer and review books, give suggestions on what services people want and have illustrators collaborate with him on a few ideas he has.
Mark’s aspirations for this project are to get it working in England, raise enough money for charities as well as to pay others a salary and then open an American outlet and see how it grows.
Surprisingly, reading did not play a huge role in Mark’s childhood. It was only when he was 16 and read ‘Kim’ by Kipling did he fall in love with books. Interlinking nature with his business enterprise was not surprising for Mark who was brought up on a farm in Kenya and who has always been close to nature.