This year's New York International Toy Fair was characterized by steady traffic on the show floor, key customers roaming the aisles of the Javits Center, orders being written, and meetings being accomplished, according to book publishers who were exhibiting.
There were several notable first-time exhibitors in the children’s publishing aisles at Toy Fair this year. Parragon Publishing is one example. “We were strictly a book publisher, but as the book market has changed, we are adding a lot more book-plus,” said Grant Brandeis, national account manager.
Parragon was showing craft kits and book-plus items under its key licenses – including Mattel’s Monster High, which was generating a lot of interest at the show – and its own properties, including the in-house-created craft and activity brands Pinkabella, Glitterbelle, and Professor Murphy’s Emporium of Entertainment. “That’s our first real attempt at getting into the toy stores,” Brandeis said of Professor Murphy’s.
Another newcomer was National Geographic Book Publishing Group, which was focusing on its National Geographic Kids imprint, including its Weird but True and Little Kids Big Book series, as well as other titles and sidelines such as National Geographic Explorer bags. “Our kids’ book business has been growing for the last five to seven years, and our distribution has been growing into places like airports,” said Bill O’Donnell, director of retail and special sales. “We came here to see if we could get into more nontraditional channels.”
Other new exhibitors include two companies using Toy Fair for their debuts. Landoll, a former coloring book powerhouse that disappeared from the market after being sold to McGraw-Hill, is relaunching in the coloring and activity segment. And Lulu Jr., a publisher of children’s books, artwork, and book-making kits, is a new joint venture between self-publishing platform Lulu.com and FableVision, an educational media studio. Lulu Jr.’s first titles include the My Awesome Book book kit, created by author and FableVision founder Peter H. Reynolds.
Many exhibitors, including publishers as well as marketers of bookstore-friendly sidelines, reported good attendance. They said they had seen a wide range of retailers, from educational stores and department stores to discount chains and e-tailers, as well as the toy and gift chains that the show traditionally attracts.
As Clair Frederick of Merrymakers, which sells dolls inspired by children’s book characters, said, “A lot of the big wheels are here.”