Finland’s WSOY, master publisher of Tove Jansson’s Moomin books for more than 60 years, is collaborating with Finnish e-book and mobile game publisher Fudeco Games Oy to bring the classic Moomin characters to e-books. The first title, to launch at the Bologna Book Fair next spring, is based on The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My, first published in 1952 as one of four Moomin picture books written by Jansson. Fudeco will produce games for all tablet platforms.
The rights holder for Jansson’s estate, Moomin Characters Oy, and global licensing agent Bulls Presstjänst AB also were involved in the deal.
The Moomin family of hippo-like trolls and their Moominvalley home—which first appeared in books in 1945—are a good fit for the digital world, according to Lippo Luukkonen, publisher, WSOY Children’s Books and Young Adult Fiction. He notes that the original book was innovative in its design. “The picture book when first published had holes in the pages that gave it sort of a 3D effect,” he says. “It was ahead of its time when it came out.” The e-book, which is in the beta phase, will include animation, voiceovers, sound effects, and other interactive features, but will also take the original 3D effect from the printed page onto the digital screen.
“We’ll use the existing 3D effects to build up some added value for the e-book,” Luukkonen explains. “We’re trying to speak to the original magic of the story. We’re not trying to build up something that wouldn’t work in that context. We want to maintain the artwork and original idea of the book. It’s quite challenging to compete with the gaming industry, so you need to look to the magic of the book itself.”
The deal with Fudeco is for a global distribution, and Luukonen says WSOY—which was purchased by Swedish publisher Bonnier in spring 2011—will present the e-book to the national publishers of Moomin books around the world at Bologna to get them excited about local translations. The Moomins are particularly popular across continental Europe and in Japan, as well as in Britain.
In the U.S. and Canada, which are smaller but growing markets, [Macmillan’s Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Square Fish imprints publish reprint editions of the 11 Moomin novels, Drawn & Quarterly releases comic collections, and Chronicle Books recently signed on for games and stationery.
“For us, [the ebook deal] is an interesting opportunity to build new content based on the Moomin property on a new platform,” Luukkonen says. “We have worked with the Moomin characters for a long time, so it’s quite natural for us to invest in this.”