There were close to 40 book publishers exhibiting at Toy Fair 2007, a bit less than the 45 or so that has been typical of late. Notably, the number of trade publishers has been dwindling for the last few years, with Candlewick among the longtime exhibitors dropping out in 2007. While publishers contacted by PW declined to explain why they have stopped exhibiting, several said that, although they decided not to sell books on the show floor, they had the same number of executives and meetings at the fair as usual.

Toy Fair has always been weighted toward coloring, activity, workbook and book-plus publishers. But several trade houses continued to participate. Among those offering their spring titles—as well as the backlist bestsellers, classics, franchises and licensed titles that appeal to toy buyers—were Scholastic, Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, Harcourt, Holtzbrinck and Accord Publishing/Andrews McMeel. "It's been good this year, both for contacts and business," commented Jennie Lane, AM's sales director, gift/toy channel.

This was the first year that the main venue for the show was the Javits Center and not the Toy Center in New York's Flatiron district. Of the companies that traditionally have had showrooms, a few, such as Modern Publishing, remained in separate locations away from the Javits; some, such as Bendon and Publications International, maintained a showroom as well as a Javits booth this year; and others, like Paradise Press, moved their Toy Fair presence solely to the Javits.

The change in venue seemed to have a positive impact, with most publishers saying they wrote more orders in the first two days of the four-day fair than they did all of last year. (By the third afternoon, many attendees, anticipating the now-traditional Toy Fair winter storm, which hit on Day 4 this year, left early.)

"It's been very busy here, more than we thought it would be," said Kerry Cunnion, Publications International's executive v-p, retail sales and marketing. "There are lots of walk-ins." The company, which holds 56 licenses, was highlighting its new Nickelodeon, Disney Princess and Disney Classics Story Reader limited-edition collector packs. All told, PI has sold 1.85 million Story Readers and 9 million of the associated book titles.

"The quality and number of buyers has been great," said Ben Ferguson, president of Bendon, which drew attention for its Little Einsteins and new Amazing Spider-Man books, among other licensed lines. "For us, this is better [than the showroom]. We get much more exposure."

Longtime Javits exhibitors attributed the strong traffic, at least in part, to the fact that buyers attending the show this year were forced to spend significant time at Javits, something not all had done in the past with the two-location setup. "It's been excellent," said Sharon Miles Winningham, v-p, books and education, at School Zone, which introduced its new Baby School Zone line. "They should have closed that Toy Building long ago."

One publisher was less happy about Javits. "We still prefer the showroom," admitted Paradise Press v-p Randy McDonald, although he reported good traffic and said the company would be back. He explained that Paradise turns over most mom-and-pop business—which represents a significant percentage of Toy Fair purchasing—to wholesalers. "Mostly what we see here are current customers," he added. "We're not set up for small quantities."

Making its Toy Fair debut was Sleeping Bear Press, an imprint of Thomson Gale, which attracted interest for its Discover America State by State series. "I've seen major accounts, I've seen commissioned reps and I've seen colleagues at other houses, so it's good for intelligence-gathering," said David Swan, director of sales and marketing. "I've been pleasantly surprised at the number of orders and the number of catalogues being picked up."

Another newbie was Kane/Miller, which displayed its spring titles as well as its bestsellers Everyone Poops and The Gas We Pass. "Our big accounts and buyers had been asking us if they could set up appointments at Toy Fair; that's why we did it," reported Kane/Miller's W. Byron Parnell.

Frog Street Press, which started in the educational market, decided to try Toy Fair this year as it expands into the consumer market with its educational book-and-CD packages. "We're more or less introducing ourselves here and getting our feet wet in this arena," said Sharon Burnett, cofounder. "But we have done some business, which is encouraging."