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Publishers Weekly Children's Features

Jamsa Press Enters Children's Market
Heather Vogel Frederick -- 5/18/98
This month, Jamsa Press launch Kids Interactive, a line of children's books accompanied by CD-ROMs. The imprint, targeting kids age three to seven, will debut with four titles in the Happy and Max picture book series; an additional quartet of titles will follow in the fall.
Kids Interactive is a departure for the Las Vegas-based publisher, and follows in the wake of Jamsa's acquisition last July by Gulf Publishing. "We were looking at various markets for diversification," explained founder Kris Jamsa. He was drawn to the children's market, where sales are predicted to top $2 billion this year, and he was aware of Gulf's success with John R. Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series. "We wanted something to ride in on Hank's coattails," Jamsa said.

Going interactive was a logical step for the company, which has published computer books and multimedia products since 1993, because it allowed Jamsa to leverage some of its existing sales channels. It also made sense, in light of the fact that Gulf's sales of business books had increased dramatically after multimedia CD-ROMs were included.

"Had we tried to do this two years ago, we would have been ahead of the customer base," Jamsa said. "Now, 40% of all U.S. households have a PC in place, and in the last 30 days, 55% of all children ages five to seven in the U.S. have used a PC either at school, at home, or at the library."

Although the company originally planned for a more traditional 32-page picture-book model, Jamsa said the idea expanded to 64 pages. And by keeping the price at $18.95, Jamsa said he hopes that will allow his book/CD-ROM packages the chance to capture market share from such multimedia heavy hitters as Disney, Broderbund and Davidson, whose product prices generally hover in the $39.95 range.

Jamsa reported that initial reaction to this strategy has been positive, and any initial resistance on the part of booksellers seems to have been overcome. "If a book buyer got hung up on the fact that they'd never carried multimedia in the kids' section before, we said, `That's OK, it's free.'" Likewise, the CD-ROMs opened the door for computer stores who had never carried picture books.
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