Toy company Mattel, Inc. (El Segundo, Calif.) is creating an in-house publishing imprint, it announced Monday, with a launch expected in the U.S. and Canada in 2024.
“Our vertical imprint will allow us to more deeply expand into [our fans’] favorite characters, storylines, and worlds than ever before,” said Josh Silverman, chief franchise officer and global head of consumer products for Mattel. He noted that the move is part of the company’s strategy “to be a high-performing IP-driven toy company and capture the full value of our IP.”
Mattel’s best-known franchises include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, Thomas & Friends, Monster High, Polly Pocket, and the recently relaunched Barney, as well as American Girl. American Girl maintains an extensive publishing program that, hand-in-hand with the dolls, is the foundation of the brand. More than 160 million American Girl books have been sold to date, including titles by bestselling authors such as Brit Bennett and Varsha Bajaj.
Titles from Mattel’s new imprint, which does not yet have a name, will complement those from the toymaker’s publishing licensees, which include Random House Children’s Books, Bendon, and Printers Row Publishing Group’s Studio Fun imprint, among others. “Our publishing licensees are a vital part of our strategy,” said Silverman. “Our imprint will focus on titles that tie in closely with franchise launches and priorities, story content, and more expansive world building. We will also mine Mattel’s deep portfolio of IP to identify new publishing-specific opportunities.”
Ryan Ferguson, head of global publishing, who joined Mattel in 2014 and previously was with Disney Publishing Worldwide and Barnes & Noble, will oversee the new imprint, working with the current publishing team on both the imprint’s and licensees’ activities, to ensure a cohesive global publishing program.
Mattel will handle development, creation, and production of the imprint’s books internally, with sales and distribution into the retail market to be handled by a yet-to be-determined partner. Formats will include board books, storybooks, leveled readers, middle-grade titles, activity books, and guidebooks, as well as audiobooks and e-books. There will also be digital content available through the company’s direct-to-consumer entertainment platform, Caribu. Digital versions of the illustrated character journals included with American Girl dolls Isabel and Nicki debuted on Caribu in February of this year.