Silver Dolphin and Discovery Partner for Book Program
Silver Dolphin Books, an imprint of Readerlink, is launching a publishing program tied to the Discovery brand, with the first books releasing in spring 2019. The company will become Discovery’s core publisher in North America—with world English-language rights in some cases—for all children’s formats, price points, and retail channels. The age range sweet spot is from as young as four up to about 10.
“Discovery is a great fit for Silver Dolphin,” said Rosanne McManus, Silver Dolphin’s v-p and publisher. “It’s a perfect brand for nonfiction. Kids will love it. And everyone knows the brand. The viewership across all the networks is just huge.” The Discovery brand distributes more than 8,000 hours of original live-action programming annually across its cable networks—numbering 19 in the U.S. alone—and digital platforms.
The focus will be on the subjects for which the Discovery Channel is well known, from books about sharks starting in 2019 to a line of STEM and STEAM titles under the Discovery #Mindblown brand in 2020 and beyond. The first list will include nine titles in the Discovery 10-Button Sound Books series for children ages three to five, ranging from Discovery: Roar at the Zoo! to Discovery: Hammer at the Construction Site!. Fourteen additional titles are scheduled for summer and fall, across series including Discovery Leveled Readers, Discovery Real Life Sticker Books, Discovery Head-to-Head, and Discovery 39-Button Sound Books. Some titles will include toys.
The Discovery license was formerly with Parragon before that company shuttered last year.
Lerner and Skyhorse Move to Sesame Street
Sesame Workshop has granted two new publishers rights to produce and sell nonfiction formats for preschoolers. They join a dozen other companies on the Workshop’s roster of Sesame Street publishing licensees in the U.S.
Lerner, whose Kar-Ben imprint holds the license for Shalom Sesame story and board books, will publish nonfiction titles focused primarily on the school and library market. “It’s a brand that has such a great reputation among educators, and it’s loved by children as well,” said Jenny Krueger, Lerner’s publishing director, school and library. “I felt a real connection with the brand’s mission of ‘stronger, smarter, kinder,’ because that’s also the mission of our core customers, the teachers and librarians. It’s at the nexus of nonfiction education and social-emotional content that works so well in this market.”
Lerner will publish seven titles in fall 2019. They include six in a language-learning series called Welcoming Words, inspired by Sesame Workshop’s work with the International Rescue Committee. The books teach simple words and phrases that a child would use to communicate with a new friend, and feature Muppets from the international co-productions of the series as well as the well-known Sesame Street characters from the U.S. Titles include Welcome to Spanish with Sesame Street and similar titles in Arabic, French, German, Mandarin, and Hebrew. Also in fall comes Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck, based on a segment from the show and featuring recipes and other food and nutrition content.
Spring 2020 will bring seven titles in a second series, Go Green with Sesame Street, which pairs favorite characters with eco-concepts. A standalone, real-world counting title, I See 1-2-3: Count Your Community with Sesame Street, will also be part of the spring 2020 list. All of Lerner’s books will be written at a kindergarten to grade 1 reading level and will be available in library-bound editions for schools and libraries, paperback versions for retail, and as e-books.
Meanwhile, Skyhorse’s Sky Pony Press imprint is publishing two new series for children ages one to five. Sesame Street My First 101 Things combines photography and illustrations of Sesame characters; My First 101 Animals and My First 101 Things That Go will be released in fall 2019, followed by two more titles in spring 2020. Sesame Street Elmo on the Move includes color and black-and-white activities intermingled with stories about the experiences children discover at new locations. This series will begin with Elmo on the Move on the Farm and Elmo on the Move at the Airport in the fall of this year, with two more titles scheduled for next spring.
“These will be a great addition to Sesame Street’s publishing program and easily the most significant license ever added to the Sky Pony Press list,” said Bill Wolfsthal, Skyhorse Publishing v-p and executive director, sales and marketing.
Disney Augments Its Publishing Program with Little Hippo
Little Hippo Books has acquired a license from Disney to produce augmented-reality (AR) titles under Little Hippo’s “A Come-to-Life Book” banner. The first two are set for this fall, both starring Mickey Mouse, with two to three more expected later in the year. The license covers Frozen and several other Disney properties, in addition to Mickey.
Little Hippo shipped its first four AR versions of classic stories—The Velveteen Rabbit, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears—to Walmart a year ago and now has 17 titles on its AR list, including the first two Disney books. The Come-to-Life books are sold through mass-market outlets from TJ Maxx to Walmart in the U.S., as well as internationally, with Asia a strong market.
The first two titles under the Disney license are ABC Fun with Mickey and Counting Fun with Mickey. The augmented reality, which is initiated through a free Hippo Magic app, allows readers to try specific learning tasks such as touching items that begin with the letter B, coloring, finding hidden objects, or tracing numbers; the books are also configured for reading in a traditional manner, without the app. “We don’t want the AR to take away from the book itself,” said Christopher Haug, director of business development at the Melville, New York-based company. Thirteen of the 24 pages in each book have augmented-reality elements.
Disney has been in the AR publishing space before, including with Bendon for the Disney Color & Play series and with Carlton Books for the Disney Augmented Reality Book series.
‘Where’s Spot?’ Celebrates 40 Years with New Products
Penguin Ventures, the group that handles licensing and other commercial activities for Penguin Random House in the U.K., has retained licensing agency LicensingWorks! as the new U.S. licensing representative for Where’s Spot? Licensed products are expected to debut in 2020, in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of late author-illustrator Eric Hill’s lift-the-flap storybook.
Products will include items for babies up to two and toddlers two to four, with a focus on toys, infant and toddler apparel, and early learning products, according to Jill Collins, who is in charge of retail partnerships and promotions at LicensingWorks! Distribution is expected to parallel that of the lift-the-flap book, which is sold everywhere from book and specialty stores to mass retailers. Penguin Ventures has developed style guides that will allow licensees to introduce new artwork into the U.S. market.
“We’ll develop merchandise to support and complement the publishing,” Collins said. “We’re integrating seek-and-find and lift-the-flap play into the merchandise to differentiate it at retail, reinforce what consumers love about the brand, and stay true to the heritage.”
LicensingWorks! expects to collaborate with Penguin Young Readers, Spot’s U.S. publisher—U.K.-based sister imprint Puffin is the book’s global master publisher—to cross-market and cross-promote books and merchandise. Although there has not been much Spot licensed merchandise on the market in the U.S. in recent years, the publishing program has been going strong. Twenty titles are available in the U.S. to date, and annual sales have increased 10% over the past five years. Five new titles are planned for 2019 and more in 2020.
The original book has sold 65 million copies worldwide in 60 languages since its publication in 1980, with the U.S. being the top market, accounting for 25 million of those copies. “It’s children’s first friend in the board book space,” Collins said.
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