DK has made a number of new additions to its portfolio of licenses, dipping into the varied worlds of movies, board games, TV, education, and video gaming.
First up is Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited James Cameron film, for which DK is the global exclusive nonfiction publisher. Set to publish day-and-date with the December 16 release of the movie are three key DK formats: Avatar: The Way of Water: The Visual Dictionary, The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water, and Avatar: The Ultimate Sticker Book. These follow The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration in May 2022, which features information about the first movie, released in 2009, along with some hints about the new film.
“The films are just so groundbreaking,” said publishing director Mark Searle. “It’s been several years since the first movie was released, but there’s still a big Avatar fan base. The World of Avatar did really well for us.”
Another new deal for DK is with Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast and its Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing games. Magic the Gathering: The Visual Guide came out December 13. “It takes the artwork from the cards, and all the lore, and brings it to life,” Searle said. “There are lots of insights into different parts of the world.”
The first D&D title, which follows in March 2023, is Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Visual Dictionary. It is inspired by the long-running and most successful D&D novel series but brings in all the elements of the greater D&D franchise. “This is about the weapons, classes, and characters, and all the lore,” Searle said. “There’s a passionate group of people who love this game and want to know more about it. This is accessible to the new fans, but it gives something new to even the most avid gamer.” Illustrations include archival art from Wizards of the Coast as well as original art commissions for the cover and some of the interior spreads. “That allowed us to expand and annotate parts of the world that have never been seen before,” Searle explained.
Both properties have always extended down to age 11 or 12, but lately even younger kids have been getting into them, especially D&D, Searle said, noting that exposure on Stranger Things, anticipation for a new D&D movie in 2023, and middle-grade novels (from HarperCollins) are among the factors contributing to the property’s popularity with younger fans. “There’s never been so much activity among kids. It’s really having a moment.”
DK is also launching books based on two educational properties for children. It is tying in with Sesame Street for the first time, publishing Elmo Asks Why: A First Encyclopedia for Growing Minds, in September 2023, to be followed by more titles in 2024 and beyond. The initial title answers the questions young kids often ask, such as: Why is the sky blue? Why can’t penguins fly? Why can’t I eat cookies all the time? DK has an extensive publishing program for preschoolers, but aside from its recently signed license with The World of Eric Carle, it has not done much licensing in this space. “Sesame Street has always been about explaining to kids about the world around them, and so has DK,” Searle noted.
The company is also publishing three paperback quiz books in July 2023 with Kahoot!, an online quiz platform that attracts one billion players a year, including 50% of U.S. teachers. The first Kahoot! Quiz Time books, which feature 250 trivia questions per title for middle grade readers, include Animals, The Human Body, and Space.
Finally, DK has paired with Minecraft for The Minecraft Ideas Book, scheduled for October 2023 and meant to spur the imagination. Projects in the book are inspired by the real world, such as the Great Wall of China or an amusement park obstacle course, with tips on what kind of digital building materials to use. The title is for ages seven and up and includes projects with a range of complexity that will appeal to all ages, Searle said. The book is similar to another DK licensed title, The Lego Ideas Book (2011), which has sold more than two million copies and led to several spin-offs as well as a new edition this past September.