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“It is really competitive for books this winter”

Egmont’s John Packard on why character publishing is feeling the squeeze from other categories.

2019 has already been an eventful year, but arguably there’s more drama to come.

Source catches up with a selection of licensees to ask what they feel are both the positives and the challenges that lie ahead for the remainder of the year.

Today: John Packard, publishing director, brands and licensing, Egmont

“As ever it is really competitive for books this winter, but it seems especially so for character publishing with space squeezed by other categories. The market is much more risk averse generally, as we’ve seen in recent years, and tried and tested performers are the focus.

We’ve got high hopes following October 4, the date when the activity on Frozen II and Star Wars kicks off in advance of those film releases. We also find really robust sales each year across classic characters such as Thomas, Mr Men and Winnie the Pooh. People are often looking for unique and memorable gifts which allows us to publish some very special books. Mr Men as an example goes all the way from stocking filler £3.99 Christmas-themed stories, all the way up to c£200 for a complete set, so there is a really wide audience for these characters reached through traditional book shops as well as value chains and online.

Also publishing is the Complete Thomas Collection which is a perennial favourite. This will launch our 75th anniversary plans which run throughout 2020.”

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