Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has extended its licensing agreement with Hasbro through 2018. The publisher will continue to create and sell tie-in books based on My Little Pony and Transformers, including some new formats, and will add more titles for Littlest Pet Shop, which it launched in fall 2015. The publisher has sold more than 3.7 million copies of 8x8 storybooks, leveled readers, chapter books, and other formats created under the original agreement, which was inaugurated in 2010.
“Hasbro excels at creating rich worlds and engaging characters, and our successful collaboration has allowed us to expand upon the worlds fans know and love with new formats and innovative content,” said Andrew Smith, senior v-p and deputy publisher.
My Little Pony has accounted for more than three million, or 81%, of total unit sales for Little, Brown’s Hasbro program. Since the first My Little Pony book was published in April 2013, the roster has grown to encompass a variety of formats, including in-world titles that replicate books depicted in the TV show, such as The Elements of Harmony and The Journal of the Two Sisters; a pop-up title, The Castles of Equestria; the jacketed picture book Under the Sparkling Sea; and the Daring Do Adventure Collection, a treasure chest-shaped boxed set with an exclusive collectible mini-figure. The top seller to date is the Passport to Reading title My Little Pony: Meet the Ponies of Ponyville.
“The core values of friendship, teamwork, and community underlie the My Little Pony brand and have universal appeal,” Smith said. “It seems like everyone is a fan of the brand and there’s no age limit to the fan base. While there’s a big audience among young children, the fans are tweens, teens, and even adults, and we publish books that appeal to them all.”
The first Transformers titles, which debuted in May 2011, were movie tie-ins to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but the television shows Transformers Prime, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and Transformers: Rescue Bots have driven most of the unit sales (700,000 to date) for the franchise. That includes Transformers Rescue Bots: Meet Chase the Police-Bot, the bestselling title for this brand so far.
New books planned under the three-year license renewal include more My Little Pony in-world titles and a new My Little Pony chapter book series to launch in 2017. Senior editor Mary-Kate Gaudet said the latter is “a departure in genre from our character-based chapter books, and will fill the needs of a currently un-met market.”
Little, Brown will also add the first nonfiction titles to the Transformers program, in the form of a series called Transformers Rescue Bots: Training Academy, which will start with a book on firefighters in April, followed by one on construction in August. The leveled readers combine illustrated characters and photographic images. As for Littlest Pet Shop, the first two chapter books were introduced last October; Little, Brown will publish two titles per season going forward.