Vying for Attention
Smart Kids creates books with the “four-second rule” in mind. “When a mom is pushing her shopping cart down the aisle in the children’s book section, you have four seconds to attract her attention. If you have a button to push on your book that results in lights or sound, the more likely she will be to stop and pick it up off the shelf,” says Berry, who confirms that Smart Kids’ best-selling books are the ones that integrate lights and sound chips.
Publishers also are taking advantage of multiplatform or multidimensional publishing. Scholastic has launched interactive Web sites to extend the reading experience to a digital platform that interests its young readers. Earlier this year, the publisher launched the “Goosebumps HorrorLand” series by R.L. Stine, with a complementary Web site that features “HorrorLand”-related content and games. It also recently launched “The 39 Clues,” a 10-book, multiplatform program to be published over the next two years. Along with the first book, “The Maze of Bones,” written by Rick Riordan, the program includes hundreds of collectible cards and an online game (www.The39Clues.com), where kids can race to gather clues alongside the book’s characters.
HarperCollins Children’s Books also incorporates the Web into its offerings for children. “The impact of digital technology is changing absolutely everything we do, from how we create our content, which is now all digital, to how we reach our customers, which includes electronic newsletters, podcasts, blogs, Web-based contests, electronic fan-lit writing, digital audio and radio, e-books, electronic picture books—the list goes on and on,” explains Susan Katz, president and publisher. “We are now planning titles for the teen and tween audience ([for example,] “Mackenzie Blue” and “The Amanda Project”) where there is both a print [book] and a Web site with material that introduces, supports and enhances the world that is created in the book.”