English Roses By Reuters
From Reuters, by Paul Majendie
LONDON – Harry Potter taught kids around the world the joy of reading. Now Madonna is going global in the thriving kids’ book business with a publishing first.
The pop superstar’s first children’s book — “The English
Roses” — is being published simultaneously next Monday in more
than 100 countries and 30 languages.
State-of-the-art technology has sent language barriers
tumbling so printing plants around the world can spring into
action in every tongue from French to Faroese.
“This is a publishing first with regard to numbers of
languages and territories,” said Nicholas Callaway, President
of the New York-based Callaway Editions, the originating
publisher, who has co-ordinated the global release.
“We have languages as varied as Chinese and Czech, Thai and
Turkish, Hebrew and Hungarian,” he told Reuters.
Internet advances have shrunk the globe. “This would not
have been technically possible 18 months ago. We send so many
digital files through the Internet,” Callaway added.
More than one million copies are hitting bookstores around
the world next week, backed by a marketing blitz that takes
Madonna from London to Paris and then on to the Oprah Winfrey
talk show in the United States.
As the hype builds, Callaway is the first to pay tribute to
JK Rowling, whose five wizard sagas have broken publishing
“Everyone owes a great debt to Harry Potter for introducing
a new generation worldwide to the magic of children’s books,”
he said. “Interest in children’s books is on the rise and
thankfully we are part of that trend.”
Critics may carp at the spotlight focusing on Madonna, a
genius at both spotting and setting pop and fashion trends.
Helen Fraser, managing director of Penguin Books who will
be publishing the book in Britain, concedes that cynics will
grumble about hype as the 45-year-old mother of two bursts into
print after years as a raunchy pop star.
“Whenever somebody as famous as Madonna does something,
cynics will use the “H” (Hype) word,” she told Reuters.
In the now-standard children’s blockbuster tradition,
details of the plot have been kept strictly secret.
But Fraser insists that the book – the first of five
written by Madonna for kids – will “appeal to people from eight to 80 which is the ideal range for publishers.”
And she agreed that children’s books were now the
industry’s big success story. “It is suddenly an area that big
companies are concentrating on. Now people realize it can be
very exciting and that the very successful children’s books are
read by adults.”
A spokesman for the Nielsen BookScan research agency which
monitors over 140,000 titles a week, said in Britain alone, the
value of children’s book sales has risen 40.5 percent in the
first eight months of 2003 compared with last year. Kids’ books
now make up 16 percent of the British market.
That point was rammed home Tuesday when Bloomsbury
Publishing, Potter’s British publisher, reported a 14 percent
rise in first-half profits. “This publishing phenomenon continues to grow in size and
value,” said Chairman Nigel Newton.
Thanks to Gugarko