Disney Publishing Worldwide has granted a three-year license to Bonnier Publishing USA’s BuzzPop imprint for original bilingual books featuring characters from Disney animated feature films and Disney Channel and Disney Junior TV series. The titles will start rolling out on July 31.
BuzzPop is Bonnier’s children’s imprint for pop culture and media tie-ins, encompassing books by social influencers including JoJo Siwa, Karina Garcia, and Jessie Paege and licenses including Ice Age, Sago Mini, Shopkins, and the Grossery Gang. Since BuzzPop is a relatively new player in licensed publishing and most IP owners already have master publishing licensees on board for their marquee properties, BuzzPop often seeks rights for niche areas that are untapped, according to publisher Sonali Fry.
That was the case with Disney, which has created some bilingual titles for Scholastic’s book fairs and clubs and for special markets but had never worked with a publisher exclusively for this format. “We had heard from our accounts that the bilingual market is growing exponentially, and we thought we could carve out that niche with licensors and serve a need for a growing segment of the population,” said Fry. “We spoke to Disney and they were completely on board with it.”
The first books will be Disney Princess Numbers and Disney Princess Colors, in English and Spanish, followed closely by 8x8 movie tie-ins for Moana and Coco. Seven more titles are on the schedule for 2018, with five to six books per season planned thereafter. Properties highlighted will include Elena of Avalor, Tangled, Frozen, Fancy Nancy, Puppy Dog Pals, The Little Mermaid, classic Mickey Mouse, and Mickey and the Roadster Racers.
The plan is to start with 8x8 storybooks and early concept board books, retailing for $3.99 and $6.99, respectively, before expanding into readers and other formats. Most of the titles will focus on Spanish initially, but the company has rights for books pairing English with French, Mandarin, and German as well. The publishing schedule for those languages will depend on the property and customer feedback, with the first example being a Fancy Nancy title later this year.
Placement is likely to be heavier in the border states near Mexico at first, Fry believes, but the company is planning a wide distribution strategy, from mass retailers and trade bookstores to educational wholesalers and book clubs and fairs. The Disney license, along with the books’ quality and visual appeal, supports that strategy, Fry said. “We hope they’ll be shelved in the regular book section and not relegated to the bilingual section.”
Fry believes the books, while intended for kids, will have an added benefit of helping some adults learn English. “We think these will be a shared experience for kids and their parents,” she said.