COMMENT: Why publishing is key in licensing

The one question almost everyone asks when they are putting together a licensing strategy is when and how the property will be shown on television.
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But also as important as this, is the licensing programme that goes alongside the broadcast and the brand's child friendly website. This nearly always includes a publishing programme as one of the major licensees. Books are more than something you read at school, they are for enjoyment everywhere and a great extension for a character.

At the moment Random House has a number of licensed publishing properties. We publish Pocoyo, as well as Hana’s Helpline, a new series recently launched on Channel Five’s Milkshake strand. We have also licensed the Milkshake brand and are launching a range of activity books in January 08 with guest appearances with the characters from some of the most popular shows. In April 08 we are launching the official tie-in book to the successful TV show, Ugly Betty.

For older children the books based on the football movie trilogy Goal! have also proved successful and our range of Balamory books have sold more than 1.5 million titles in just under two years.

That’s a lot of exposure for any property and what we are finding is that books can add value to a property. The audience is getting more sophisticated and they don’t just want a picture book with just the story; done properly books will deepen the relationship with the property.

Hana’s Helpline, for example, is a great example of interactivity bringing that extra dimension. The books feature some of the stories told on the programme, but there is something else there as well. At the end of each book there are tips for the readers relevant to the story they have just read.

Our Pocoyo range are not just storybooks. Some of them include little four-piece jigsaws, others have die-cut pages, and others have detachable Pocoyo figures that allow the child to re-enact the story as it is being read to.

Princess Poppy is another of our publishing properties that is destined for a bright future. We have appointed Copyrights to put together a licensing programme and with 375,000 copies sold in just 18 months, they have a solid base to work from.

Publishing is a vital way to maximise a licence. Hana’s Helpline was a huge success at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair and we have had enquiries about translations into a great many languages across Europe and beyond. Each of those publishing partners is going to contribute to the amount we can invest in the property and that has to be good in licensing terms.

So by all means think about television when you want to launch your licensing strategy but don’t forget about books.


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