The creative process
At Penguin Putnam's juvenile division, the art department, designers and the production staff meet several times a year to discuss new products on the market and current technologies from various vendors. The most interesting and innovative vendor samples are later presented to the creative staff to alert them to these new capabilities.
"All production people bring ideas to the table. We always have an open forum and the best ideas come from bouncing them off of one another," she offers. But sometimes the best ideas present the biggest production challenges. Recalls Britt: "We did a scratch 'n sniff book where a four-color sticker was placed on a four-color page to complete the artwork. It was challenging to us and the vendor because of the four-color process and the various smells involved that had to be incorporated. It required several passes through the press to complete."
Ideas that have crossed-over from other markets have added to children's books becoming more and more toy-like. According to Britt, merchandise from the card and gift markets have worked their way into children's books. The ever-popular scratch 'n sniff product owes its origin to promotional perfume samples in magazines. In fact, the label industry has even gotten involved in printing four-color stickers on clear adhesive that resemble band-aids.
As ideas reach new creative heights, Britt has had to expand her search for vendors that are capable of producing books in a safe, cost-effective manner. "The overseas vendors market themselves as being able to produce novelty products like books that make noise, are touch 'n feel, are meant as bath books or have plush toys attached," she says. "Most [novelties] need to be manufactured overseas because of economic factors. It is difficult to meet these needs domestically—difficult but not impossible."