Publisher Mascot Books
is a start-up all-star
By Hope Katz Gibbs
BACK IN 2002, Aimee Aryal was a mom on a
mission. She and her husband, Naren, had just
taken their 2-year-old daughter, Anna, to
watch their college alma mater, Virginia Tech,
play a football game. On the way out of the
stadium the toddler made a request: “Mommy,
I want a book about the Hokie Bird.”
The Hokie Bird, of course, is Virginia
Tech’s mascot. And the idea of taking home a
souvenir sounded like a fine idea to
Aimee, who graduated from the
university with an accounting degree
in 1993 (Naren graduated in 1992).
But once inside the campus bookstore,
she realized there was no such book to
So on the way from Blacksburg
back to their house in northern Virginia,
Aimee wrote one.
The book, Hello, Hokie Bird!, quickly
became a favorite of Anna’s. And it gave Naren
an idea. He’d been practicing law for about a
decade, working mostly for high-tech start-ups. But after the dot-com bust, his prospects
were looking grim. So after reading Hokie
Bird to Anna for the umpteenth time, in 2003
he and Aimee—both Costco members—
formed Mascot Books. Naren then persuaded
Virginia Tech to grant Mascot Books a license
to publish Hello, Hokie Bird! and asked a
fellow Virginia Tech grad, Sarah Meadows,
to draw the illustrations.
Within three months, all
copies of the children’s book
were sold out at three campus
bookstores. Ditto for the stock
at the Barnes & Noble store near Virginia Tech.
Naren knew Mascot Books was going to be a
winner. In fact, soon after their second daughter, Maya, was born, Hokie Bird was listed in
13th place on the bestseller list for Barnes &
Noble’s southern region.
Naren quickly approached other colleges
to write stories about their mascots, and in the
last three years Aimee has written 45 books,
including Hello, Nittany Lion! (Penn State)
and Let’s Go, Irish (Notre Dame).
Then he decided to try the concept with
professional sports teams. He pitched his idea
to several former pro baseball players and
asked if they’d be official authors of the books.
“They went wild for the idea,” says the young
The Costco Connection
Region-specific titles from Mascot Books
are available in most warehouses.
“Give yourself permission to get the
most out of your life. If you’re spending
all your time
with a toothbrush,
of missing the
the end result.”
MEREDI TH / PAPERBACK —Sandra Lee
Cook up some comfort! Delicious new dishes,
just in time for the holidays.
MEREDITH / PAPERBACK
Be good to your heart!
“I can’t think of a better gift
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—Susan K. Bennett, M.D.,
George Washington University Hospital
BETTY CROCKER /
We’ve cooked up something special … just for you!