Indy’s Adventures in Publishing

When the long-awaited fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise is released on May 22, 2008, Scholastic and DK—both long-time partners of Lucas Licensing on Star Wars—will release a range of children’s books appropriate for a PG-13 movie. In addition, Penguin is on board for Mad Libs, and Lucas is in talks with other publishers for formats such as tween activity books, according to Carol Roeder, director of publishing.

Scholastic will publish junior novelizations for all four films.

Not final art.

The first three will come out in April in trade channels—all will be available in Scholastic’s clubs and fairs as well—with the fourth released the same day as the film. “The reason they’re doing the fourth movie is pretty much our reason for doing the books,” says Lynn Smith, Scholastic’s director of licensed publishing. “It’s been the barometer for adventure films for the last 20 years. [The character] is an icon of adventure.”

DK will produce The Ultimate Indiana Jones Guide, as well as sticker books tied to all four films. “We’ve had our eye on Indiana Jones. It’s been a big ambition of ours for a long time,” says Siobhan Williamson, DK’s category publisher for licensed children’s books, who notes that the rich universe lends itself well to the comprehensive, 144-page format of an Ultimate Guide. “It fits the DK treatment, that detailed nonfiction approach. There are so many fans out there dying to get their hands on this sort of book.”

Little Golden Products

This year is Little Golden Books’ 65th anniversary, and licensor Classic Media, a division of Entertainment Rights Group, is marking the occasion by launching a line of licensed products starting in the fourth quarter of 2007. “In October 1942, Little Golden Books became available for 25 cents each and changed publishing history,” says Nicole Blake, Classic’s senior v-p marketing. “They’re part of every child’s experience. This is an opportunity to deliver something new and fresh to the core audience of readers.”

Initial licensees creating products featuring Scuffy the Tugboat, The Poky Little Puppy, The Shy Little Kitten, The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Tootle include Mudpuppy Press (blocks and cube puzzles), Briarpatch (floor and boxed puzzles, game cards), CSS Industries (gift bags, wraps and boxes), Brainy Toys (electronic playsets), SaraMax (apparel) and Super Rad Toys (collectible vinyl figures). The merchandise will be sold in a variety of retail channels, including independent, chain and university book stores, all of which have been enthusiastic about the product, Blake reports. “This is a brand that’s delivered for them year in and year out.”

Supermarkets and Sushi

Random House will release 8x8s, coloring/activity, movie storybooks and other formats tied to the computer-animated feature film Foodfight!, from Threshold Animation and Lionsgate, currently set for a March 2008 release. The story is about a battle between brands and off-brands that takes place in a supermarket after the lights go out. “It has that spark of originality,” explains Kate Klimo, v-p and publisher, Random House Golden Books Young Readers Group. “Supermarkets are the here and now of kids’ lives these days.” The license also will allow the publisher to forge cross-promotions in supermarkets and with some of the many well-known brands that will be featured in the film and the books. “The opportunity for cross-promotions in supermarkets is obviously one of the things this property has going for it,” Klimo says.

RH also has acquired two new TV-based licenses from American Greetings. “When I arrived at Random House, it was the height of the American Greetings Golden Age,” Klimo says, citing Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake as examples of the company’s many hits. “When they spoke of reviving that and becoming a creative factory again, it made sense to me to revive our relationship.” First up is Sushi Pack, which will debut on CBS this fall; coloring/activity and novelty titles will follow next spring. “It has the same appeal to me as the [Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles did,” Klimo says. “It’s just fun.” The other property, Maryoku Yummy, is for preschoolers and is in development for a possible fall 2008 TV debut. “It’s sort of Care Bears meets Hello Kitty,” explains Klimo. “It’s sweeter, more subdued, more girl.”

Littlest Pets, Hottest License

Scholastic’s books tied to Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop seem to be following in the successful footsteps of the toymaker’s earlier publishing efforts for its My Little Pony brand. “[Littlest Pet Shop] is one of our hottest licenses right now,” says Lynn Smith, Scholastic’s director of publishing. “It’s adorable. It’s pink, it’s purple, it’s really cute, and it’s collectible.” Fourteen titles will have been published by the end of 2007, after a fall 2006 launch, with 12 to 15 more planned for 2008. All told, more than 1 million books—which are advertised on inserts in the toy packages—are in print in the trade alone.

Because there is no storyline, the books are focused on activities, trend/lifestyle topics and collecting, with formats including handbooks, collectible sticker books, readers, and 8x8s; bestsellers include the Official Collector’s Sticker Book, volumes 1 and 2, and Littlest Pet Shop: Best Friends. Their primary audience is girls 5 to 8, a bit older than that for My Little Pony.

My Little Pony, meanwhile, has a total of 18 million books in print, from lead licensee Penguin and other publishers, in the U.S. alone. “Publishing has really helped that brand grow in leaps and bounds,” reports Tom Klusaritz, Hasbro’s v-p licensing and retail development. “But Littlest Pet Shop is our fastest-growing girls property now in toys.”

Book-Based Films and Film-Based Books

Two more literary franchises are about to debut as feature films, spurring tie-in publishing programs and licensed merchandise. One is The Spiderwick Chronicles, based on the series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, set for a February 2008 release. Simon & Schuster, publisher of both the core and tie-in books, plans to release five Simon Scribbles coloring/activity titles, including Uncle Arthur’s Art Studio, and six Simon Spotlight books, including a movie storybook (the film encompasses the first five books in the series), a “making of” title, two ready-to-reads, an 8x8 (Jared’s Anti-Goblin Guide) and a sticker storybook. S&S will also reissue books one through five in the original series with movie-related jackets, as well as a specially jacketed edition of Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You.

“The tie-in titles work as great complements to the movie, but they also work on their own, to give the reader a little bit extra in terms of the story,” says Valerie Garfield, v-p publisher, novelty and licensed publishing. Cross-marketing with other licensees will support both the tie-in and backlist programs. “We want to blow this out in the biggest way possible,” Garfield says.

Also on the horizon is The Golden Compass, produced by Scholastic Media and New Line Cinema and set for a December 2007 premiere. The film is based on the first book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, published by Scholastic UK in Britain and Random House in the U.S. Scholastic has worldwide English-language movie tie-in rights, and plans to release The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, Scholastic Reader Level 3: Lyra’s World, The World of The Golden Compass, and The Story of the Movie, as well as a movie storybook, poster book and quiz book.

Kohl’s Cares for Kids, and Kids’ Books

Jane Yolen is the latest author to partner with department store Kohl’s and its Kohl’s Cares for Kids initiative. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? and How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?—each with a customized jacket—are being sold from July 7 through September 30, both in-store and online, along with coordinating plush toys. The price is $5 each, about a third of normal retail. Not only does the program get low-priced books into the hands of children, but net proceeds go to children’s health and education causes.

Since Kohl’s Cares for Kids launched in 2000, with Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon, it has highlighted more than 50 books and plush for children 4 to 8. Four promotions per year have featured authors including Dr. Seuss, Jamie Lee Curtis, Eric Carle, Laura Numeroff and Sandra Boynton and licensed characters such as Clifford, Curious George and Charlie Brown. In the program’s first year, when Kohl’s operated 320 stores in 26 states, $2 million was generated for children’s hospitals; by 2006, when the company had 834 stores in 46 states, the program raised $22 million for a variety of initiatives. All told, more than $85 million has been raised for causes ranging from immunizations to childhood obesity education.

In Brief

Disney Publishing Worldwide launched 10 titles tied to High School Musical 2, including a junior novel with 1 million copies shipped in the U.S. The made-for-TV film sequel to High School Musical—which drove worldwide book sales of more than 4.5 million copies from 60 titles—premiered on the Disney Channel on August 17, with a record-breaking 17.2 viewers. Twenty more titles are in development for 2008….Licensing agent Stone America Licensing signed Casa De Oro to create Paddington Bear charms, and Starbound for Paddington helium parade balloons….IDW will create comic books for the computer-animated feature film Igor, licensed by Exodus Film Group….In anticipation of the Cartoon network animated series based on the Mr. Men and Little Miss book franchise, which will debut in January 2008, Chorion has signed seven new licensees. Products include apparel, accessories, hosiery, stickers and temporary tattoos, pet accessories and bedding and towels….Publications International is releasing several new electronic book formats this fall, including the Karaoke Book, for ages 3-7, with licenses including The Wiggles, Disney Princess and Elmo; the Learn-To-Write Book, also for kids 3-7, with Dora the Explorer and Disney Friends; and the Talking Dictionary Book, for ages 4-7, with Disney Princess, Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine.