How literary brands can spell opportunity for licensees

Publishers are home to some of the best illustration and fine art in the world, says Walker Books' Anna Hewitt.
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Publishing houses have long been recognised as a destination for licensing opportunity.

From classic children’s brands like Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh to their contemporary counterparts such as The Gruffalo and The World of Eric Carle, children’s books have provided a licensing launch pad for a vast range of different product lines over the years. Walker Books is no exception, our popular character brands that have grown from Walker picture books include the evergreen classic Maisy, the iconic Guess How Much I Love You and pre-school favourite Tilly and Friends.

But look beyond the character-led picture books and you’ll discover even more extraordinary treasures. Publishers are home to some of the best illustration and fine art in the world. Award-winning, collectable, instantly recognisable – these artists represent variety, literary heritage - and have an existing fan base.

llustrations from our books have become a source for art-based products, including stationery lines and greetings cards. In addition, we have existing retail links to national retailers, online retailers, department stores, independent bookshops, specialist and gift stores, toy stores, museums and galleries, who are already familiar with our publishing brands, authors and illustrators, all of which helps additional products find space in the market place. In all of this, remaining true to the original work is of paramount importance, and as such we work with our authors and illustrators from style guide stage onwards to ensure the original spirit of every word and picture is retained.

Walker Books recently partnered with Museums & Galleries to create a new line of greetings cards featuring an array of original artwork by award-winning children’s illustrators, taken from popular Walker Books’ picture books. The range includes cards illustrated by children’s illustration luminaries such as Helen Oxenbury, Anthony Browne (Little Beauty pictured below), Kevin Waldron, Vanessa Cabban, Patrick Benson and Anita Jeram.

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We are very excited about building these portfolio opportunities, coming up with new and innovative ways to licence some of the books on our list. The classic children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland celebrates 150 years in print next year, and to mark the occasion we have made Helen Oxenbury’s award-winning Alice illustrations available for use on products for the first time.

New partnerships and innovative collaborations are a cornerstone of Walker’s licensing strategy. Last year Flora McDonnell and Charlotte Voake, two of Walker’s celebrated illustrators, had their images featured on a new line of children’s T-shirts from popular clothing company Mini Boden. Walker also launched The Bedtime Story Collection in BHS, bringing a new meaning to a book at bedtime with gift-sets matching picture books to pyjamas.

Literary artwork obviously appeals to book-lovers, who may well be familiar with the stories behind the illustrations too, but it can also be appreciated in its own right. And where better to look for new content than a publishing house committed to producing high quality artwork and stories every single day. At Walker we are constantly generating new material from our established illustrators as well as seeking out new artistic talent, and there is a limitless supply of licensing opportunity as a result.

To find out more about opportunities for collections across product categories including apparel, stationery, gift and homewares come and visit us at BLE at Stand G010.

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