|LICENSING HOTLINE HEADLINES, 3/18/2002|
|Engelbreit Hits the Books|
|The Novelist of Light|
Engelbreit Hits the Books
Twenty-five years ago artist Mary Engelbreit brought her portfolio to New York City, hoping to connect with a children's publisher. After an editor advised her to look to the greeting card market instead, she returned to St. Louis and built an empire that now boasts sales of 14 million cards annually. More than 40 licensees market 6,500 Engelbreit products, together expected to generate retail sales of $125 million in 2001.
Now the artist's original dream is finally coming true through a five-year, 20-title deal, her largest licensing arrangement to date. HarperCollins Children's Books will publish illustrated classics, including a Mother Goose collection; a picture book series called Ann Estelle & Friends, starring Engelbreit's signature character; and a line of board books. The first title, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, is scheduled for fall release, followed by two board books in winter 2003.
Engelbreit previously illustrated Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen (Workman, 1993) and Wm. Henry Channing's My Symphony (Andrews & McMeel, 1997); A&M publishes an extensive line of gift books.
The Novelist of Light
Thomas Kinkade, an artist billed as "The Painter of Light," is about to become a novelist. Three novels by Kinkade and co-writer Katherine Spencer are being published by Berkley, which purchased the rights for mid-six figures from book producer Parachute Properties and Media Arts Group, Kinkade's art publisher. The first novel, out this month, is titled Cape Light, named for the fictional town that will serve as the backdrop for all three books. "All his paintings are of beautiful, idyllic places, but there are no people in them," said Jane Stine, Parachute co-chair. "This was a marvelous opportunity to people his world. There are things books can do that paintings can't do."
Kinkade's artwork is sold in over 200 Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries and 5,000 specialty stores; Media Arts' revenues from wholesale art sales and licensing royalties totaled $130 million in fiscal 2001. Industry estimates place retail sales of licensed goods--which include home furnishings, gifts and even a licensed housing development--at over $400 million; the Thomas Kinkade Collectors' Society has more than 28,000 members. "We became interested in the incredible reach that he has," Stine said. "We feel [the novels] will appeal to both the mainstream and the Christian market."
HarperCollins is publishing six beginning readers and one picture book tied to Sony Pictures' Harold and the Purple Crayon TV series on HBO, starting with a Festival reader last December and another last month. Harper's backlist includes the Crockett Johnson book on which the show is based.... Fisher-Price renewed its licensing agreement with Reader's Digest Children's Publishing, a partnership that has generated sales of more than 14 million books since 1997.... Dalmatian Press introduced Jackie Chan Adventures coloring and activity titles in mass and trade channels, beginning last month. Sony is the licensor.... Learning Horizons expands its Parents Play + Learn educational book line, published under license from Parents magazine (agent: The Joester Loria Group). Eight leveled readers, four wipe-off books and two game card sets become available in May.... Porchlight Entertainment has granted rights for the PBS preschool series Jay Jay the Jet Plane to Penguin Putnam for story, lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel books and to Modern for coloring/activity, sticker and wipe-off titles, set to roll out this year.... Agent L&G Licensing+ is launching a merchandising effort for the Little, Brown book It's OK to Be Different by Todd Parr, based on strong sales (this is LB's bestselling Parr title, with 100,000 in print) and a timely message of tolerance. Parr has more than 20 licensees for his artwork.... MBI Publishing has acquired rights from Primedia Enterprises to publish and distribute transportation-related books based on Hot Rod, Car Craft, Rod & Custom, Circle Track, Stock Car Racing, Dirt Rider and Motorcyclist magazines.... Nelvana has acquired all trademarks, copyrights and financial interests related to Babar from the family of creator Jean de Brunhoff and his son Laurent, except certain publishing rights retained by the family. The Clifford Ross Company will continue to jointly license the 70-year-old property with Nelvana.... Byron Preiss Visual Publications/ibooks has licensed the classic TV show The Prisoner from Carlton U.K. and will reissue classic titles and original novels starting in June. It also acquired rights to Witchblade (now seen on TNT) from Top Cow Productions and launched original novels in February.... Silver Lining Productions acquired merchandising rights to Dennis and the Monsters, a 15-year-old British book series written by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Susan Varley and published by Andersen Press. Silver Lining has forged TV development deals for Dennis and for Holly Hobbie's Toot & Puddle.... In January, Reader's Digest Children's Publishing launched a licensed book program based on Hasbro properties including Mr. Potato Head, Scrabble, Scrabble Junior, Transformers, Play-Doh, Koosh, Nerf, Monopoly, Monopoly Junior and Easy-Bake Oven. Formats include hardcover story, board and novelty books.... Scholastic has produced an animated TV series based on its I Spy franchise, which has more than 20 million books. The show, for children 4 7, will debut on HBO Family this fall.... Warner Bros. Consumer Products has introduced a range of licensed products based on Pesky Meddling Girls, a property created by Jennifur Brandt, author of Life Is a Movie Starring You: The Pesky Meddling Girls Guide to Living Your Dreams, through an exclusive deal with retailer Mervyn's. Brandt appeared at two stores to promote the Valentine's Day effort, which focused on clothing and accessories; a San Francisco area radio station gave away autographed books to select callers through a related on-air promotion.... Dimension Films has licensed two publishers for its August sequel film SPY Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams : Talk Miramax Books, for novelizations, an official movie storybook and activity books, and Best Personalized Books.