Reaching Today’s Kids
● What kind of push has been made to meet the demand for content in electronic form in the past year?
Holton: It’s something we believe is only going to become more integrated into our own business. It’s something that goes very much hand in glove when we think about our publishing program. This year, for example, when we published the new “Captain Underpants,” we already had a fantastic Web site that many kids visited. One of the many things we did was send a ‘Purple Potty’ on tour across the United States. You could actually go online and track the Purple Potty.
We also have a very cool book club, called Flashlight Readers, and it’s kind of an interactive game. It’s about reading the book and translating the experience online. We’re working on several different projects like that.
● Is this done in conjunction with the writers?
Holton: We work very closely with the writers. It’s their characters, it’s their world. Clearly, the marketing department is a big part of it, and they collaborate. But ultimately the more the writer’s voice and world and characters … come through in every single medium, the stronger it’s going to be.
● What is the biggest challenge, beyond competing with other forms of media, that children’s book publishers are going to face as an industry in 2007?
Holton: I would say two things. First, the economy. Honestly, I think we’re facing what everyone else is facing. Not only in terms of rising prices in our own industry, but simply where people are in the U.S. economy and how much disposable income they have.
Secondly, the challenge that we in the children’s book industry have is to reinforce the importance of pleasure reading and the importance of independent reading. There’s been an enormous focus on decoding and testing as part of school. Our mission
and challenge is to help everyone understand when children read for pleasure and when they find the right book, and they choose to read that book outside of school, that can contribute to their success in school. It sounds obvious, but it is not always so obvious. It’s a challenge we have to always be in front of.