Futech Interactive Products may not sound like a children's publisher, but the company has spent approximately two years developing an infrastructure that will allow it to become a major player in the children's products field. In developing its distribution network, Futech acquired seven companies in a bid to increase the number of channels through which it can sell its materials. Among the companies it acquired were Tiger Press, Trudy Corp. and XYZ Distributors. In each purchase, the company's distribution capabilities were a key factor behind the acquisition, Mel Sauder, Futech president, told PW.

While Futech has turned to acquisitions to enhance its distribution network, its product offerings will be based on its home-grown technology, the Talking Pages interactive sound books. The company has licensed the technology to other publishers, most notably Golden Books, but Sauder said Futech felt the time was right for the company to go directly to the marketplace.

Futech attended its first BookExpo America this spring and had a good response to its list, Sauder said. The company is particularly excited about two lines of books that it is bringing out in conjunction with NASCAR. One series will feature books that incorporate the sounds of the race track and will retail for $9.95, and the second line will include books that come packaged with replicas of different drivers' cars and retail at $5.95. The lines were shipped to stores last week.

Other Talking Pages lines include Talking Pages Deluxe and Talking Pages Plus, which feature story books, picture books and prayer books, all with an interactive element. The books did very well when they were introduced at the warehouse clubs earlier this spring, Sauder said.

The company is also expecting big things from Joy Berry's line of books that it will sell through the retail market for the first time this summer. Berry's 250 titles have previously only been sold through book clubs and direct mail.

Fifteen new titles are scheduled to be released under the Tiger Press imprint this year, and in the fourth quarter the company will publish Little Tiger interactive books, aimed at the preschool market.

Vincent G tt, Futech's chairman, told PW that the company is looking for "rapid growth in the children's market. Our goals are not small."