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HarperCollins’ customized books put kids in the picture

HarperCollins Children's Books UK and partner Penwizard are putting a new twist on customized books. Moving beyond current offerings that allow parents to place their kids' names in the stories' narratives, the partners' newest book range lets consumers place illustrated images of their children right alongside their favorite characters.
August 1, 2007

HarperCollins Children’s Books UK and partner Penwizard are putting a new twist on customized books. Moving beyond current offerings that allow parents to place their kids’ names in the stories’ narratives, the partners’ newest book range lets consumers place illustrated images of their children right alongside their favorite characters.

Chorion’s Noddy is the first property getting the treatment, and these titles will be sold exclusively online at www.mynoddybook.co.uk when it goes live in September. Powered by UK-based Penwizard’s digital customization technology, the site offers a ‘changing room.’ Once there, consumers can create digital illustrations of their children, choosing everything from hair and eye color to apparel. The user then places the child’s image in one of three Noddy stories and pays a fee of US$20 to order a copy. Two weeks later, the colorful 24-page, large-format paperback will arrive on the buyer’s doorstep.

HarperCollins Children’s Books properties editor Jenny Jacoby, who’s heading up the project, says the company is focusing its efforts on getting Noddy off the ground, but adds there’s definite interest in taking on other licenses. She hints the new tech has been ‘creating a buzz’ amongst larger kids brands and that HarperCollins’ first stop would be its own pool of preschool brands, as well as considering properties targeting older kids up to teen.

Penwizard, a digital printing customization company, started up three years ago with a focus on personalized kids books. MD Richard Adey says the format can easily be versioned into other languages, so he plans to sell the books into Europe this year and is in discussions to bring the concept to the US.

While Penwizard explores other retail scenarios, including setting up online ordering in toy stores, HarperCollins is sticking to selling the Noddy books via the dedicated website for the time being.

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