The Icelandic publishing company Edda Nordic Ltd., which has been licensing books, magazines, and book clubs from Disney for nearly three decades in its home territory, has opened a North American division. Edda’s chairman, Jon Axel “Jax” Olafsson, will serve as CEO of the New York-based Edda USA, which is publishing two titles, Disney Frozen Hairstyles and Disney Princess Hairstyles, this month. They follow the April 2014 release of Disney Go Green: A Family Guide to a Sustainable Lifestyle.
“I took over the company [in 2009] and always had a vision in mind to take it into North America and further into Europe,” said Olafsson, noting that Edda’s Disney titles fill a gap within that licensor’s extensive U.S. publishing program. Edda’s focus is high-quality paperbacks on how-to topics such as crafts and sustainability, filled with projects that families can do together. Photographs illustrate each step of the project instructions. “We believe we have found our sweet spot within Disney by focusing on this ‘lifestyle’ category,” Olafsson said.
In addition to the hairstyle-making titles, planned releases include The Ultimate Disney Party Book (Jan. 2015), Disney Green Planet: Activities, Crafts, and Projects for a Happier, Greener Life (Mar. 2015), and Disney Green Garden: Fun and Sustainable Backyard Projects (Mar. 2016). Also in the works: another hairstyle-making title featuring Disney Villains, as well as, potentially, a cookbook series under the Disney Family Kitchen banner, first published by Edda Europe. Prices for the initial roster of titles range from $12.95 to $19.95.
In addition to its core Disney focus, Edda USA is publishing nonfiction titles for adults under its own Made Easy brand, starting with International Cooking Made Easy and Makeup Made Easy.
Olafsson reported sizeable preorders on Disney Princess Hairstyles and Disney Frozen Hairstyles. The latter has been particularly strong, given Frozen’s continuing popularity; Edda’s casting call for young Icelandic Frozen fans to appear in the book’s how-to photographs attracted 5,000 hopefuls. Disney Frozen Hairstyles has a 50,000-copy first printing, according to Olafsson; that run is nearly sold out and another printing of 30,000–35,000 is planned. The titles have secured distribution in all channels in the U.S. and Canada, from booksellers including Barnes & Noble and Amazon to the warehouse club Costco, which is taking a big position, according to Olafsson.
An extensive promotion and marketing campaign is planned, including exposure in women’s magazines, according to Jane Wesman, president of Jane Wesman Public Relations, which is handling sales and marketing for Edda USA. She reported strong interest in Halloween features focusing on how girls can recreate the hairstyles of Frozen’s Elsa and Anna for their trick-or-treat costumes.
All of the books on Edda USA’s launch list were created specifically for the North American market, rather than being translations of existing European titles. But they are likely to see distribution globally. “There is huge demand for these titles in Europe at the moment,” Olafsson reported. Disney Frozen Hairstyles and Disney Princess Hairstyles are expected to make their way to Germany in spring 2015, followed by the Scandinavian territories later in the year.
Olafsson estimated that Edda’s European business is 80% Disney-licensed and 20% proprietary. In addition to Edda USA and Reykjavik-based Edda Nordic, which produces a wide variety of titles based on Disney properties from Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Chip and Dale to Frozen and Up, the company oversees Zurich-based Edda Europe. That branch, a joint venture with Swiss business consultancy Sigrum GmbH, focuses on the Disney Family Kitchen concept, developed in 2010 in Iceland; 30%–40% of households in that country have at least one Disney Family cookbook, according to Edda Europe.
While the company’s publishing operations have been heavily Disney-centric to date, Olafsson is negotiating with other licensors for future publishing deals, extending to both the U.S. and European markets. Edda USA’s titles are produced in Europe, while distribution is through Midpoint Trade Books, which represents titles from 275 independent publishers.