Our Story

We Create Awesome Learning Experiences

Helping children develop a love of reading and learning, no matter their ability level, is at the heart of what we do at Capstone. Our passion for creating inspired learning has made us the most trusted publisher of children’s books and digital solutions for libraries, classrooms, and consumers for 25 years. Capstone’s content comes in a variety of print and digital formats including board books, picture books, interactive books, apps, audio and databases. Whether print, online, or new, yet-to-be-discovered formats, Capstone provides children and young adults with the content they love.


Not only does Capstone rank Number One among students preK through high school, but we're also the first choice among their librarians. Whether recognizing colors and shapes through pictures, learning history through interactive chapter books or encountering mystery and adventure through safe graphic novels, kids (and educators) choose Capstone because we connect. Our collection of more than 11,000 titles ensures there is the perfect book for every reader.

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Capstone Classroom offers solutions for grades PreK-10 educators. Among our extensive collection of more than 6,000 nonfiction and fiction titles we include teacher support materials. Our core offerings include leveled reader programs, interactive ebooks, audiobooks, and customized curriculum collections to support Common Core, STEM, and more.

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Our trade program features a collection of carefully selected titles across a range of topics, formats, and interest levels to build a passion for reading. From board and picture books, to innovative fiction and nonfiction, drawing and how-to, and graphic novels, Capstone's list includes an array of children's books and ebooks from beloved authors.

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U.K. & International Markets


Raintree has a strong reputation with librarians and teachers, publishing the best nonfiction with curriculum support since the mid-1990s. Raintree's combination of high quality content and accessible reading levels established it as a favorite among educators and readers. By combining the talents of authors, curriculum experts, editors, and designers, Raintree ensure that topics, text, and graphics are always 'just right.' Raintree titles are guaranteed to captivate young readers at every age, stage, and ability.

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Inspired by the inquisitive nature of the fox, Curious Fox books are designed to spark the curiosity of young minds, and to encourage readers to seek out more great books as their love of reading grows. Launched in February 2013, our publishing program is aimed at young readers of all ages with high-quality print and digital titles to help foster a love of reading.

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An Enterprising History is Our Legacy of Success

At Capstone, our passion for children’s learning defines the momentum behind each book and digital product we create. We deliver hardworking content in formats that kids love. This enterprising quality springs from an entrepreneurial tradition that’s nearly 125 years old.


Capstone turns 25 years young. Happy Birthday Capstone!


Capstone’s digital products—myON, PebbleGo and Capstone Interactive—reach 55 million visits in 2015. myON tops 6 million students


Engage Literacy, a guided reading program, is acquired from Australian publisher Hinkler. Expands Capstone’s offering in the reading market


Capstone acquires professional development publisher Maupin House and continues to publish professional development titles for educators


Capstone entered licensing agreement with DC Entertainment to publish reinforced library hard covers and paper-over-board editions of DC Comics

Capstone launched new mobile capabilities for myON®™ reader

The Capstone Literacy Center is established to boost the reading skills of struggling readers in the Mankato community

myON®™ reader topped 1 million students reading

Capstone Interactive Library™ interactive eBook program expanded to include greater title selection and improved technologies


Capstone celebrated its 20th anniversary in publishing

Capstone launched myON®™ reader, the largest online library of interactive ebooks

Capstone entered licensing agreement with Tony Hawk Inc. to publish new sci-fi, action-adventure series, Tony Hawk's 900 Revoltion, for kids

Capstone entered licensing agreement with the Smithsonian Institution

PebbleGo™ Biographies unveiled as the newest addition to the PebbleGo database collection

Annual nation-wide survey conducted by Renaissance Learning recognized Capstone as the number-one brand for struggling readers for the third year in a row

Coughlan Companies, Inc., established affiliate Jordan Sands, LLC, an industrial sand mining and processing operation


Educational software company Portage Interactive LLC is acquired, expanding Capstone’s products and solutions

CapstonePub.com is re-launched to integrate all imprint’s titles and formats into one e-commerce site

Capstone released first interactive book for Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iTouch platforms and new game for Nintendo DSi

PebbleGo™ Earth and Space unveiled as the newest addition to the PebbleGo database collection

Capstone entered licensing agreement with DC Comics to publish DC SUPER-PETS, a new chapter book series about the pets of DC Comics’ iconic characters

Books for Africa received 300,000 books in donation, valued at more than $5 million — the largest single book donation in Capstone’s history


Capstone entered licensing agreement with DC Comics to publish DC SUPER HEROES, a new chapter book series based around DC Comics’ iconic characters

PebbleGo™ debuted as the first interactive animal database designed for emergent readers and researchers, grades K-2

Capstone Digital division is launched with interactive and online media formats to excite and engage learners

Capstone entered licensing agreement with Sports Illustrated KIDS to publish a new line of high-interest nonfiction and fiction sports stories

Capstone Rewards, a free, customer rewards program, is established

Free educational website for kids, CapstoneKids.com, is re-launched


Heinemann Global Library is acquired, expanding Capstone’s market globally

Raintree is established in the U.K.

CollectionWiz™, the first online collection analysis and management tool created by a publisher, is launched


Capstone Publishers (now Capstone) is established to unify the publishing companies with shared services

Capstone Interactive Library™ with digital books online is launched


Stone Arch Books, the first exclusively safe graphic novel publisher, and the Graphic Library brand, first nonfiction graphic novels series, are established


The Pebble Plus® brand is launched to provide larger nonfiction books for beginning readers, grades preK-2


FactHound.com®, the first publisher-provided, internet-based resource provider for elementary students is launched


Red Brick Learning is launched, partnering with educators to help all students, from struggling to fluent readers, achieve reading success in the classroom


Picture Window Books, the first solely illustrated nonfiction and fiction series publisher, is launched


Compass Point Books, Capstone’s second imprint, is established


The Pebble brand® becomes the first nonfiction research series for emergent readers (grades preK-2) in the market


Capstone Press publishes its first books, 48 titles


Capstone Press is acquired and rapidly expands, setting the pace for the Coughlan entry into the publishing industry

The Capstone Bag

The Capstone bag was created in 2010 to share our fun characters and content with the world — and, of course, to carry books.

The love for the bag has exceeded our greatest expectations. It is consistently the most requested item at every event we attend.

Here is a visual timeline of all of our bags.

No demo item exists for the selected template.

    Board of Governors

    Robert J. Coughlan

    Owner and Principal

    Bob was part of the team that acquired Capstone in 1990 and became its sole owner in 2019. Capstone rapidly expanded from is inaugural year of publishing 48 books to an industry leader, publishing over 700 titles in a variety of formats annually and successfully innovating into the digital space with products such as PebbleGo, a subscription database designed to be a K-2 student’s first research experience. Prior to his leadership at Capstone, Bob served in a variety of executive leadership positions in the manufacturing and publishing industries. Bob enjoys being involved in CEO peer to peer roundtables. He graduated from Gonzaga University, Spokane, with a B.A. in History.

    Maerin A. Coughlan

    Owner and Board Member

    Maerin is proficient in marketing with significant work experience in the publishing industry. Specialties include communications, social media marketing, and event planning. She is passionate about spreading the importance of literacy through community outreach and engaging with customers. Maerin graduated from Saint Thomas University, Saint Paul, with a B.A. in Communications and Journalism.

    Mary J. Cullinane

    Board Member

    Mary has spent the last 25 years in leadership positions in the education, technology and publishing industries. As a former C-Level executive, she has led large organizations responsible for over one billion dollars in annual revenue. She has been responsible for helping to drive a company through restructuring and IPO events and has led marketing, communications and product development organizations in technology and publishing. While at Microsoft, Mary led a team who worked with leaders from around the globe in the quest to improve the teaching and learning process. Mary, a former teacher and author, holds an undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey and a Master’s degree from Columbia University.

    W. Douglas Hile

    Chair of the Board

    Doug is a business executive with over 40 years of experience in senior executive and CEO roles in financial service businesses in money center, super-regional, and large community banks. He has expert skills in building high performance teams and executing growth strategies in private companies. He has served as a director on over 35 private, public and cooperative boards in 10 states, with experience chairing boards and numerous committees, including Audit Chair for two large reporting entities. Hile is a graduate of Marquette University (BA, Economics) and the University of Chicago (MBA, Finance and Marketing).

    Mary M. Merrill

    Board Member

    Mary has over twenty-five years’ experience in mergers and acquisitions, private placements of debt and equity, strategic advisory services, and valuations for middle-market companies. She has worked for several investment banking firms, including a boutique investment bank she founded and subsequently sold to Manchester Companies. In her roles as investment banker and private equity investor, Mary has worked with family owned businesses, private, and public companies to achieve growth, liquidity, access to capital, and exit strategies. Merrill earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Business and an MBA in Finance and International Business from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She holds FINRA series 7, 24 and 66 licenses.

    Dr. Charlie Miller

    Board Member

    Charlie is the founder of Flipgrid, a social learning platform used by more than 50 million students, educators and families across 190 countries. He joined Microsoft as Partner General Manager in 2018 when Microsoft acquired Flipgrid. Prior to Microsoft, Charlie was an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as well as the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Design Innovation (now Education Technology Innovations).

    Jeffrey L. Sugerman

    Board Member

    Jeff brings more than 30 years of experience in executive management, marketing, and business development within the technology, training, and publishing industries. He joined Inscape Publishing as President and CEO in 2001 to lead its transformation into an independent, growth company. In February 2012, Inscape was acquired by John Wiley and Sons, Inc. and Sugerman was named Executive Vice President of the Talent Solutions and Education Services Group. In August 2017, he left Wiley and now works independently as an Advisor and Director to technology-enabled, high-growth companies in the middle market. Sugerman received a Ph.D. in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a B.A. from Northwestern University.

    Senior Management

    G. Thomas Ahern

    CEO, Capstone and Coughlan Companies, LLC

    Tom joined Capstone and its parent company, Coughlan Companies, LLC, in 2007. He is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, and direction of the company. Prior to joining Coughlan Companies, Tom served as CEO of Swiftknowledge, Inc., a Minnesota Fastest 50 growth company and was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for PLATO Learning, Inc. Tom earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University, Evanston.

    Gail Beer

    Vice President of Customer Relations/Fulfillment, Capstone

    Gail joined Capstone in 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President of Customer Relations and Fulfilment. She oversees Customer Services, the Distribution Center, Community Giving, Bids and Contracts, and Purchasing. Gail came to Capstone from Coloplast Corp where she was the Customer Service/Purchasing Manager. She studied Business at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

    Beth Brezenoff

    Associate Publisher, Capstone

    Beth started with Capstone in 2006 as an editor and held roles of Assistant Editorial Director and Editorial Director before she was named Director of Product Planning in 2018. She oversees the Capstone Content Team and is responsible for the content development, strategy, and execution of Capstone’s publishing list. Beth began her career at Simon & Schuster and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

    Darin Rasmussen

    Vice President of Digital Product Development and Management, Capstone

    Darin joined Capstone in 2017, bringing over 15 years of edtech and publishing experience. He oversees the creation, deployment and maintenance of Capstone’s digital product portfolio. In his experience prior to Capstone, Darin has led strategy, marketing and business development functions at 808 Hats, Edmentum and Thomson Reuters. Darin earned an MBA from Chicago Booth Business School, a JD from Chicago-Kent, and a BA in Economics from the University of Illinois.

    Steve Robinson

    CFO, Coughlan Companies, LLC

    Steve Robinson is the Chief Financial Officer for Coughlan Companies, LLC. He brings 11 years at Upsher-Smith, a pharmaceutical company here in Minnesota, serving as its CFO for the last seven years. Steve began his career in public accounting working several years for PriceWaterhouse as it was known then. After obtaining his MBA, he then moved to Minnesota to work for Honeywell. Steve was with Honeywell for 10 years serving in a variety of finance positions before moving over to Upsher-Smith.

    Amy Schmidt

    Human Resources Director, Coughlan Companies, LLC

    Amy started at Coughlan Companies in 2001 as a Human Resources Assistant, eventually becoming the Director of her department in 2015. Among other things, Amy oversees and manages training & development programs, recruiting, employee relations, and wellness programs for both Jordan Sands and Capstone. Prior to Coughlan Companies, she was a part of the HR team at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Amy has Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute.

    Scott Sustacek

    President, Capstone

    Scott joined the Capstone team in January 2020 as President. He leads strategic and operational execution across the organization. Scott has served in senior leadership roles as CEO of Jordan Sands, a Coughlan Companies affiliate, from 2012 to 2020. Prior to that Scott spent twenty-one years at Nystrom, Inc. serving in sales, marketing, and general management roles including CEO from 2005 to 2012. Scott is a participating member and past board member of the CEO Roundtable. He earned degrees in finance and economics at St. Cloud State University.

    Careers at Capstone

    Capstone is the nation’s leading educational publisher of children’s books and digital media. If you are looking for a career that provides opportunities to grow and develop, please consider Capstone. We are on the lookout for talented people who share our goals and a passion for learning, a willingness to work hard and an eagerness to share innovative ideas that help children learn along with the educators who serve them!

    Coughlan Companies, Inc.

    • Capstone is a subsidiary of Coughlan Companies
    • Coughlan Companies is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer
    • We actively encourage women, veterans and minorities to apply
    • A pre-employment drug screening is required of all candidates

    Employee Benefits

    Employee Total Rewards

    • Medical Insurance
    • Dental Insurance
    • Domestic Parter Insurance
    • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Provides tax savings for health and dependent care.
    • Health Initiative - Program designed to assist employees to create individual exercise habits and weight loss to improve overall long-term health and happiness.

    Investment and Retirement Planning

    • 401(k) Plan
    • Company match of 100% of the first 3% and 50% of the next 2% deferred.

    Income Protection and Security

    • Group Life and disability insurance plans provide financial protection for our eligible employees and their families.
    • Voluntary life insurance may be purchased at group rates.

    Work Life Balance

    • Generous Paid Time Off Paid Time Off Donation Program – Voluntary program that allows the donation of PTO to eligible employees.
    • Company Holidays
    • Personal Holiday
    • Family Medical Leave
    • Adoption Assistance – Financial reimbursement for qualifying expenses for eligible employees.
    • Employee Dependent Scholarship – College scholarship opportunity for dependents of eligible employees.
    • Employee Assistance Program – Offers confidential counseling and referral services.
    • Employee Bonus Referral Program – Bonus opportunity for the recruitment of open positions.
    • Employee Volunteer Time – Paid time off to support community initiatives through volunteerism.
    • Employee Product Discount – Generous discounts on all Capstone Publishers and Mankato Kasota Stone products.
    • Commuter Benefit Program
    • Flexible Work Environment
    • Relaxed Dress Code

    Career Development

    • New Hire Orientation.
    • On-the-Job Training to enhance job knowledge and skills.
    • Resource Library with a variety of self-study materials.
    • Tuition Reimbursement – Education reimbursement on approved courses for eligible employees.

    Join the Conversation

    We love to connect with educators, students or anyone who loves reading. Let us know what you think, or ask us about our company, imprints or any of our products and services. Contact us directly, visit our blog or connect through social media. We look forward to connecting with you.

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