It’s a market truism that PB needed to pay close attention to in creating its new imprint Pocket Pulse-if it is to attract the imaginations of the more than 30 million teens currently living in the U.S. This demo is quickly becoming a key component of PB’s business, as it is for its chief competitors Avon, Bantam/Dell and Scholastic. Last year, 30% of PB’s non-adult title sales were teen books, a figure Pines expects will increase due to the large number of young adults in the 12 to 19 age range. Under Pulse, Pocketbooks has confirmed it will release 35 teen books over the next 12 months, roughly 30% above its total teen output over the same period last year.
First up is the inaugural title in Sweet Valley High author Francine Pascal’s action series Fearless, which has already been optioned for TV by Columbia TriStar Television. Following the adventures of black-belt, crime-fighting high-schooler Gaia Moore, Fearless will be published every other month beginning in October, with monthly releases starting in January. The majority of PB’s six-figure marketing plan for Fearless will target teen girls. Free teaser mags featuring back stories to the series will be distributed to all major on-line and off-line accounts. The pubco will also run a free shopping spree sweepstakes cross-promotion with girls clothing e-tailer Alloy.com (which will also be selling the books), and print ads promoting Fearless are slated to run in teen consumer mags starting in January.
In terms of retail distribution for all Pulse titles, PB will be zeroing in on the same channels that carried its teen books prior to the launch of the imprint-including bookstores, mass merchants, grocery stores, coffee bars, drugstore chains and warehouse clubs-as well as new on-line venues like Alloy.
Pines says she’ll be encouraging all accounts to position the books separately from their kids sections to make them more palatable to teen shoppers. ‘The [teen] shopper is fraught with insecurities about being older and more mature, and certainly does not want to be lumped in with the Goosebumps [crowd].’ According to Pines, Kmart began providing a designated area for its teen books two years ago, and has since seen a double-digit increase in sales of the genre. Target and Waldenbooks, she adds, have also recently begun experimenting with teen-only sections.
Other titles making it onto the Pulse sked will include Angel, based on the Buffy spin-off TV show, which hits stores in November; four titles in the Roswell High series, which has also spawned a TV show that’s debuting on the WB in November; a Freddie Prinze Jr. bio in February 2000; Sidekicks (working title), a nonfiction book that turns the spotlight on the off-camera lives of TV’s favorite male second bananas; and more Body of Evidence books, penned by Buffy scribe Christopher Golden. Additionally, all of PB’s current and future TV tie-in releases, like Sabrina and Dawson’s Creek for example, will also move over to Pocket Pulse.