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Today's kids, weaned on video games, the Internet and television, need their books to do more than spin a good yarn-they need to be interactive....
November 1, 1999

Today’s kids, weaned on video games, the Internet and television, need their books to do more than spin a good yarn-they need to be interactive.

That’s the conclusion New York pubco Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers appears to have reached with its new line of toy-book hybrids that include: 3-D storybooks of Mr. Men and Little Miss (toy figures with bodies that flip open into the pages of a book); bendy-legs Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and Smiley Face (miniature books that come with posable arms and legs); and squeaky Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (books featuring molds of the characters’ faces on the front that make squeaking sounds when pressed).

They are all new formats that are certain to create a merchandising conundrum for retailers trying to decide whether they should go in the toy or the book aisle, or both. To an extent, it’s an ambiguity Penguin Putnam has fostered intentionally to guarantee maximum distribution for its early reader titles.

‘There are just so many more entertainment options for kids to choose from today, consequently, as publishers, we need to find a way to stand out among all the other selections. That means the use of high impact packaging is extremely important, and increases the chances that your book will get picked up by a book store, toy store, supermarket, airport retailer or direct mail catalog,’ says Audrey Cusson, senior VP, director of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

The squeaky (US$5.99), bendy legs (US$6.99) and 3-D books (US$12.99) began shipping to stores in late September. Any future plans for Penguin to move other kids licensed properties into these formats will depend solely on how the first wave of books perform at retail, says Cusson. SA

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