Just because the children’s book division at BBC Worldwide has shut down doesn’t mean Bob the Builder, the Teletubbies and the Fimbles will go unpublished. Penguin has just created the BBC Children’s Publishing imprint to accommodate these and all other kids brands that have an on-air home on the U.K.’s public broadcaster.
Sally Floyer, managing director at Penguin, will head up the new venture, which will initially focus on expanding the reach of BBC’s brands through the publisher’s international imprints. Penguin will own 75% of the division, overseeing development, production, distribution, sales and marketing on a global scale. The imprint is not taking on original work; instead, it’s working exclusively on brands that originate in-house at the BBC or at an independent studio that has signed over ancillary rights to BBC Worldwide.
BBC Children’s Publishing will also dip into the Beeb’s vast archive of programming to launch new book lines in cases where the pubcaster holds the rights. These could include some non-fiction titles based on kids magazine show Blue Peter and educational mainstays such as Blue Planet and Walking with Dinosaurs. ‘We would bring Dorling Kindersley, our sister imprint, into the joint-venture for these projects because it’s all about illustrated non-fiction for children,’ Floyer adds.
Helen McAleer, head of children’s at BBC Worldwide, expects this imprint to kickstart activity in North America, given that Penguin can share formats and ideas with its sister publisher in New York, Penguin Group Inc.’s Grosset & Dunlap. Floyer says she will be talking with both PGI, the BBC and rights owners about opportunities to launch a State-side book line for Tweenies, which airs in the U.S. on Noggin but has yet to debut there in book form.
HIT Entertainment’s head of publishing, Katie Price, says the imprint should help revitalize some of HIT’s biggest book lines, including Bob the Builder, Pingu and Rubbadubbers. Penguin, BBC Worldwide and HIT will soon sit down to map out a new publishing gameplan, and Floyer says revamped ranges for these properties could roll out as early as fall 2004.