Monday, 24 June 2013

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "Children's Books as merchandising opportunities"

Jane Cabrera merchandise.
Cute as heck but I wouldn't want to blow my nose on the handkerchiefs, they're too nice!
This week on #ReadItMD13 we're delving into the world of children's books in a slightly off-centre way. We're looking at products and ideas that have leapt off the page, where books and book characters have become more like big brands as the steamroller of merchandise rolls ever onwards.

It's not a new idea, after all I'm sure quite a few of you tucked yourself into bed as youngsters with one of these nose-ticklingly hairy things...

Orinoco - Pretty much the best Womble bar none. 
Or clomped around the house toting one of these (if you were really 'posh' you had the one with wellies)
Ahh Paddington, you and your chunky little anorak and wellies!
Of course plush toys are just one aspect of the mighty merchandising machine as each new hit book spawns a range of products so diverse and so all-encompassing that you often completely lose sight of the original book that spawned them. At the moment, stroll down just about any supermarket aisle, homewares shop or toy store and you'll see a huge variety of Gruffalo-based merchandising. In fact, thanks to three rather successful TV adaptations, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child and Room on the Broom really have shifted from book to TV to toyshelf almost effortlessly. 

Does this affect the way authors write and illustrators draw though? We already know that something in the region of 65-70% of a successful children's TV programme's revenue is clawed back from merchandising tied to the show, and it's probably a major reason why the BBC make such massive international profits every year. Name a CBeebies show and there'll almost certainly be a toy range or tupperware container with characters or images from the show on it. 

So it is with successful books, in fact from time to time merchandising takes us by surprise. For instance we had no idea that Oliver Jeffers' books have spawned an accompanying toy range...

Own your own fat penguin (and the book, of course!)
Or for that matter, that you can now own a vinyl toy of the coolest female heroine in kid's comics (if you can stump up the rather whopping £49.99 for this stunning Hilda doll)

Peek-a-boo, I see you!
Is book merchandising such a bad thing though? I sometimes think it's quite cool to see kids (and their parents) idolising book characters to the point where they feel the need to stick on a pair of Gruffalo underpants. 

We'll be taking a look at a few more examples during the week. In the meantime, if you have a particular fave from now or yesteryear, drop a comment in the box below or tweet us @readitdaddy. We'd love to hear all about them!