Children’s book publisher Albert Whitman & Co. has reached an agreement with Open Road Integrated Media to publish all 150 titles of Whitman’s Boxcar Children Mysteries series in e-book format. The first 19 e-titles in the series will be released in time for Christmas 2010. Originally written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, who wrote the first 19 books, the popular series has sold more than 50 million copies across the 150 titles.

Children's book publishing veteran Barbara Marcus, who recently joined Open Road as an adviser, helped arrange the deal, Open Road's first in the children's books space. John Quattrocchi, president of Whitman, said, “We are delighted to have formed a strategic partnership with Open Road and look forward to a successful future.”

Open Road Media has become known for using a variety of multimedia content to promote its titles, and the Boxcar Children Mysteries digital series will also include “enriched” e-books that feature “premium” supplementary material. Open Road is working with the Chandler estate to incorporate additional archival and biographical information about the books and the original author’s life and works into the new e-book series.

According to Open Road spokesperson Josh Raffel, not all of the first 19 e-books will be enriched e-books and that there will “likely be a boxed set” or special grouping of the enriched e-books as well as the e-graphic novels offered for sale. “Open Road's approach is to not disrupt the reading experience but to bookend it with rich content that brings the reader closer to knowing the author and their world,” said Raffel. Pricing has not been set.

Whitman has also been adapting the prose works into the comics and there are now 15 graphic novels that correspond with prose works of the same title. Whitman director of marketing Michelle Bayuk said three more graphic novel adaptations will be released in early 2011 and all the graphic novels will be released as e-books beginning in 2011.

Open Road Media CEO Jane Friedman said the Boxcar Children Mysteries “are the perfect books for the digital reading experience. With our commitment to digital marketing and the creation of new and appropriate enriched material, we will be able to reach out to the audiences who have loved the series and attract new readers who will arrive via the digital route.”

In a separate announcement, Open Road will also release e-book editions of 55 crime and mystery backlist titles from bestselling authors Lawrence Block, Stephen Coonts, Robert K. Tanenbaum and Don Winslow. The new e-book editions will go on sale before the end of the year and will include new cover art, previously unpublished photographs and illustrated biographies of the writers. The list will feature 37 titles by Block, three by Coonts, ten from Tanenbaum and five titles from Winslow. This new batch of titles will add to the list of previously announced E-riginal and backlist crime and thriller titles. Open Road will be showcasing this catalog of e-books at Bouchercon 2010 from October 14 through October 17 in San Francisco.