You know those “licensed books” that the once magnificent Scholastic Books catalog is now riddled with? The ones where it’s like, Minions Go on a Picnic, or How To Train Your Dragon to Not Eat the Rich, or Dora The Explorer Participates in Colonialism, and it comes with stickers and a CD or something? Well, here is an article on how they are trying to cope with the situation at hand and still make a metric shit-ton of money off people not educated enough (or frankly, tired enough of their kids’ whining to give up) to not buy their inane garbage. </snobbery>
Publishers of licensed books tend to rely more on distribution through mass merchants than children’s publishers at large, whose sales skew more toward trade channels. This fact has helped mitigate the sales declines that have accompanied the spread of the new coronavirus. On the other hand, publishing licensees are dealing with the unique challenges that come with releasing tie-ins to feature films that are being postponed indefinitely or being watched online instead of in theaters.
“We sell an awful lot of licensed books in mass merchant accounts like Target and Walmart, and they’re still open because they sell food,” says Jon Anderson, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. “So we haven’t seen quite the impact in licensed books as we’ve seen in some other categories.”
Coloring and activity titles in particular have been selling well during the crisis. “Our coloring and activity and preK–2 workbooks are doing very well as a category,” says Ben Ferguson, CEO and president of Bendon. “There are 57 million kids at home who are looking for in-home, quiet activities, and that’s driving our product tremendously. The sell-through is better than we’ve ever seen.”