It was 1982. The Doctor had regenerated into that vet from All Creatures Great and Small the year before and I was on my way to becoming a full-on Doctor Who fan.

The importance of tie-in books

The only problem was that my favourite programme was off screen at the time. I needed my Doctor Who fix but there was no Netflix, no DVDs and not even any videos to satisfy my hunger for Time Lordery. I just had to wait for the new series to begin.

Or did I?

I made my discovery one wet Saturday afternoon while trudging around WH Smith with mum and dad. There it was on the shelf – Doctor Who and the Ark in Space by Ian Marter. I broke out the pocket money and sat down that evening to read my new adventure in time and space.

I’d never read anything so fast. I devoured the book – even though the tale of alien infestations on a remote space station gave me nightmares. And then came my second discovery. There was an entire library of Doctor Who novelisations. I needed to read them all!

My love for these little books, mostly written by Mr Terrance Dicks, opened a whole new world to me. I’d always read, but now I was obsessed – not just with the Doctor and his time-travelling pals, but with adventure books in general. I started to seek out Terrance Dick’s other novels, to scour the bookshops and library shelves for anything that might contain a monster.

Thanks to Doctor Who and the State of Decay (by Terrance Dicks, naturally) I picked up Dracula. I discovered Sherlock Holmes short stories in the hunt for something a bit like Doctor Who and The Talons of Weng Chiang (Dicks again). Because of Doctor Who novels I went on to read Douglas Adams, Tolkien, Dicks (Philip K. not Terrance this time) and Robert Louis Stephenson. Those slim, TV novelisations fanned the flame of a book addiction that lasts to this very day.

That’s why I think children’s tie-in books are vitally important and I get upset when people are sniffy about them.

Why? Because sometimes sometimes a tie-in book is the only thing some kids will read.

A while ago I heard about a school that asked their pupils to dress up as their favourite book character for World Book Day. One boy came dressed as Optimus Prime, which drew comments in the playground. It was supposed to be book characters, not toys or cartoons. The lad himself was confused. Optimus Prime was in his favourite book, the Transformers Annual. He read it every day.

Good for Optimus Prime, I say. If kids start reading because they love Transformers or Star Wars or Doctor Who or Skylanders or The Beano then brilliant. They’re reading.

And that’s where our responsibility starts. As licensors, licensees, publishers and writers we have to make sure that our tie-in books are the best they can be. If we get them right, they might just spark a love for reading that will last a lifetime.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to pop to the bookshop. There’s three new Doctor Who novels out this month…

Cavan Scott writes novels, audio dramas, comics and activity books based on such popular series as Doctor Who, Skylanders, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Warhammer 40,000. His latest Skylanders chapter book Gill Grunt and the Curse of the Fish Master (writing as Onk Beakman) was published by Puffin books last week and Who-ology: The Official Doctor Who Miscellany, co-written by Mark Wright, is published by BBC Books on 2 May. Visit his website at

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