In contrast to major film studios, book publishers have been reluctant to use consumer research to trial content or marketing approaches. But that is changing and the new properties emerging through such research could be fertile ground for TV and film producers seeking proven formulas.
Children's publishers, with their closely defined readerships, can be at the forefront of such consumer-influenced moves. Leading the way is Egmont Books, the third-largest group in the UK children's books market, controlling mega brands such as Thomas The Tank Engine and Lemony Snicket.
This summer Egmont created a new imprint, 2Heads, which bases all its book ideas and marketing strategies on extensive research. Three new series will be developed each year with children and parents who comment on content, covers and marketing plans.
The first series, Too Ghoul For School, is targeted at boys aged eight to 10. Egmont interviewed 500 school children to create the humorous franchise, which is about kids who discover ghosts at their school.
"One of the interesting things was how much film and television leads their thinking on what stories are interesting," says Egmont publisher Helen Stables. "Television is such a strong force for storytelling for children."
The publisher signed up scriptwriter Tommy Donbavand (Planet Cook) as a lead author, and worked with Argentinian animation studio Pulsar to create the animation-style pages.
A second series, Megastar Mysteries, aimed at girls aged nine to 11, follows the lives of three girls who live in a dreary town but become involved in glamorous adventures.
"All the 2Heads books must have very strong stories - after all, that's the foundation of books, film and gaming," Stables says.
- All 2Heads properties have adaptation rights available, and Stables can be reached on (44) 20 7761 3738 or firstname.lastname@example.org.