After more than 30 years in the book biz, Sesame Workshop is in the midst of overhauling its approach to the category with a new publishing-specific style guide and juiced-up formats that should speed up sell-through for prized brand Sesame Street in 2005.
Scott Chambers, the Workshop’s VP and GM of publishing, says a string of major agreement renewals over the last 18 months has put his team in re-evaluation mode and helped trigger the spruce-up. The first step, he says, was to create a style guide that could help licensees make a more cohesive brand statement at retail by suggesting where to put logos and offering a new approach to spine design. The spines on Sesame Street books will now feature the disinct colors of the characters, and from a distance, will look like they’re covered in fur.
One of the programs taking advantage of the new creative parameters is Random House Children’s Books’ Happy Healthy Monsters series that ties in with the Workshop’s Healthy Habits for Life campaign. The line launches at book and specialty stores in July 2005 with 35,000-copy print runs of Elmo’s Breakfast Bingo and Get Moving With Grover, both of which are 8×8-inch hardcovers that retail for US$6.99.
And an extended agreement with Reader’s Digest will broaden the range of Sesame Street’s novelty book line. The company’s kids book division is taking the fur concept to a new level this summer with the launch of Follow Elmo (US$10.99), which will feature googly eyes and a touch-and-feel cover done up in red Elmo fur. Harold Clarke, RD president of trade publishing and special markets, says he has plans to expand this line using fur of all lengths. RD is also producing its first-ever book/DVD combo with Easy as A-B-Cs (US$15.99), which will contain a book with 60 interactive flaps and a 15-minute DVD with clips culled from Sesame Street that reinforce alphabet basics.
The Workshop is also getting into the educational workbook and flashcard category in a concerted way with American Greetings subsid Learning Horizons, which should have product to market by mid-’05.
Besides looking at ways to capitalize on seasonal opportunities in coloring and activity books with new licensee Bendon Publishing out of Ashland, Ohio, Chambers says he’s not actively hunting for any more licensees. But, he adds, ‘We’re always looking for new technologies and formats.’