Reaching for the Stars
Two classic sci-fi properties, Star Wars and Star Trek, are expanding their already extensive publishing programs, including new titles for children. For Star Wars, Lucasfilm’s director of publishing Carol Roeder reports that Workman’s Star Wars: A Scanimation Book has hit bestseller lists, joining DK’s Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary, which has resided on lists for more than 23 weeks since its publication. Scholastic is publishing Millennium Falcon: A 3-D Owner's Guide, an oversized board book with flaps developed by becker&mayer!, this fall. Penguin, DK and Scholastic all are expanding their Clone Wars books, based on the animated series, as are DK and Scholastic with their Lego Star Wars lists.
Chronicle is publishing The Sounds of Star Wars in the fall, working with the films’ sound guru, who consulted on the book and wrote the introduction. And Random House is releasing a Making Of title for The Empire Strikes Back, in time for that film’s 30th anniversary. Finally, Abrams is publishing Star Wars: Visions in the fall, an art book in which more than 100 artists from different genres—comics, children’s picture books, western art—create their own interpretations of scenes from the Star Wars saga. All told, more than 100 million Star Wars books are in print and more than 100 titles have been New York Times bestsellers.
As for Star Trek, Simon Spotlight is coming out with a line of YA novels that take place at Starfleet Academy, tied to the time period and characters from the most recent film, according to Liz Kalodner, executive v-p and general manager, CBS Consumer Products, and Risa Kessler, a consultant who handles the publishing category for CBS. Other upcoming Star Trek titles include The Needs of Many from Pocket Books, a novel based on the Star Trek Online multiplayer role-playing game; a title in the Abrams 365 coffee table series called Star Trek: The Original Series 365; an addition to Chronicle’s Obsessed With trivia book series; and a U.S.S. Enterprise Owners Workshop Manual from Haynes, distributed by Simon & Schuster in the U.S.
Cable Network Discovers Children’s Books
Discovery Communications and its licensing agency The Joester Loria Group have signed a number of publishing deals tied to shows on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Scholastic is creating a nonfiction book about dog breeds for ages 6-10, based on the Animal Planet series Dogs 101, and a Mythbusters Science Fair Book, based on the Discovery Channel series, for ages 10-14. Both are for the school channel. Scholastic’s director of licensed publishing, Lynn Smith, notes that both science fair and dog books do well in schools, and that the company received requests for books based on these licenses. “In the school channel, you can never sell too many dogs,” Smith comments.
Based on the success of its children’s book tied to the series Dirty Jobs, Meredith is developing a second title, this one inspired by Shark Week. Both are Discovery Channel properties. For the Animal Planet brand, meanwhile, children’s book licensees include Bendon for coloring and activity books and Bonnier Publishing for a variety of juvenile formats. The latter is a global deal that encompasses its Templar, Five Mile Press and Weldon Owen divisions.
A Big Year for Both Cat and Fish
As The Cat in the Hat gets ready for his debut in the Random House TV series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That on PBS this fall, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish celebrates its 50thanniversary, and The Lorax gets set for its movie debut, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has been busy on the licensing front.
At Licensing International in Las Vegas last month, it was meeting with its licensees to make they knew all about upcoming initiatives. “We want them to be aware of the immense amount of support both Random House and Dr. Seuss Enterprises are putting behind the show,” says Susan Brandt, DSE’s executive v-p, who adds, “Everything we do from an entertainment sense is based on the books and goes back to support the books.” She expects the show to drive backlist sales for Random House’s The Cat in the Hat Learning Library, on which it is based; the publisher also is creating show-specific coloring books and 8x8s. Cat in the Hat books and licensed products will feature a burst to encourage TV tune-in.
For One Fish, DSE partnered with The Ocean Project and the National Association of Zoos and Aquariums to promote ocean diversity. It is also holding birthday events at bookstores and has a line of licensed One Fish and Green Eggs and Ham apparel in Wal-mart stores. (Green Eggs also turns 50 this year.) Random House is publishing anniversary editions of the two books
The Lorax will star in an animated film scheduled for release in March 2012, and that will help drive sales of licensed Lorax products, which include plush, apparel, posters and school supplies. Most of the merchandise is meant to minimize harm to the environment, such as by incorporating unbleached or recycled materials. “We ask that our licensees heed the call of The Lorax,” Brandt says. The Lorax Project, supported by the National Education Association, is a curriculum program focusing on environmental stewardship.
DSE has also been active on the digital front. It is relaunching its Dr. Seuss Web site this month, with games, teacher materials, and information on the author and his work. Dr. Seuss has attracted almost 60,000 fans on Facebook within a few months, while The Lorax has 20,000 fans on a separate Facebook page. DSE has authorized a number of apps for Apple platforms with licensee Oceanhouse Media, and plans to expand those offerings.
RJM Licensing has secured a number of new deals for Maisy. Products include framed children’s art from Starry Story Art, book-and-pajama sets from Books to Bed, games and puzzles from Briarpatch (a past licensee), and customizable chocolates from Carson Enterprises…. Sony Consumer Products licensed Ghostbusters to IDW for comic books.... Big Idea is expanding its VeggieTalesbook line with four devotionals published by Big Idea, four new I Can Read titles from Zondervan, and a sound chip book from Ideals Publications for fall 2010. Random House recently released a Little Golden Book and Bendon handles coloring and activity titles.... French licensor Alphanim signed Oxford University Press to sell books based on the animated series Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog, set to launch on Qubo in the fall, in the school market in the U.S. and Canada.... CBS Consumer Products licensed Zenescope Entertainment for Charmed comics.... Simon & Schuster sold 1 million books tied to the Olivia TV series in its first six months on the market, according to licensor Chorion.... Dark Horse has published a Making Of coffee table book based on the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. A condensed 32-page paperback version is packaged with the DVD collection for season 1 of the series, which includes a Making Of mini-documentary.... Archie Comics launched a licensing program with Surge Licensing, securing licensees for apparel, Bluetooth earbuds and posters, and also has a number of new publishing initiatives, including novels from Viking Penguin, Art Of books from IDW, comic collections from IDW and Dark Horse, graphic novels from Random House, and a collectible Archie Gets Married title from Abrams.... Upcoming Looney Tunes publishing programs, licensed by Warner Bros., include comic books containing three original stories from corporate sibling DC Comics and coloring and activity titles from Rofact International. Publishers outside North America include Edizioni Play Press in Italy and Panini in the U.K. and France….Warner also signed Creative Imaginations for Harry Potter scrapbooking products.... Summit Entertainment and Most Management won the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association’s License of the Year Award, presented at the Licensing International Expo, for The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Nordstrom won Best Retailer for its range of Twilight merchandise.