Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Simon Spotlight Unboxes TV Tie-Ins for YouTube & 'Ryan’s Mystery Playdate' Star Ryan Kaji

Simon Spotlight, a division of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, is set to add to its growing list of books starring YouTube and Nickelodeon star star Ryan Kaji in 2020!

Starting this year, it will publish tie-ins to Nickelodeon's number-one preschool series, Ryan’s Mystery Playdate. These new titles will complement its existing line of books based on Ryan’s World (formally Ryan ToysReview), the young star’s YouTube channels, which has 31 million subscribers and 41 billion views to date.

Forbes estimates that Ryan earned $26 million in 2019, and named him the year’s top-earning YouTube influencer.

Simon Spotlight published its first book tied to Ryan’s World, known for its toy-unboxing videos, in December 2018, with two more titles since then.

“There was a perception that this property was white-hot, but it has more sticking power than people give it credit for,” Valerie Garfield, Vice President (VP) and Publisher, Novelty and Licensed Publishing at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, told “We wanted to respond to the demand and the interest, but we don’t see it as a flash in the pan. We purposefully are publishing in a measured manner to build the brand.”

Two TV tie-ins, Who Will It Be? and It’s a Marvelous Mystery, are currently available. A third title in the series, Spooky Sticker Surprise, will be published by July. All are 8x8s and come with a decoder, build-it-yourself magic box, and stickers, respectively. More titles are planned for fall. On the Ryan’s World side, Ryan’s Road Trip, an 8x8 with poster, is set for a May release, with two more titles to follow in fall. They join Meet Ryan, the initial 8x8; a Ready to Read, Welcome to Ryan’s World; and Ryan’s Pizza Party, another 8x8 with scratch-and-sniff stickers.

Garfield noted that Ryan has two distinct audiences, one for his YouTube content and the other for the TV series. The two publishing programs are somewhat different as well. The TV tie-ins are very interactive, closely linked to the challenges and unboxing puzzles featured on the show, while the Ryan’s World books allow readers to discover more about Ryan. “The readers can connect with him and learn a little more about him,” Garfield said. “Even reluctant readers see Ryan as a friend and want to get to know him better by reading.”

All the books have certain characteristics in common. “We look at what it is about Ryan that resonates with kids, and that’s his enthusiasm and his eagerness to try new things,” Garfield said. “He’s fun! We want to take that and put it into the books as well.” Ryan’s parents are very involved in the editorial process, and Ryan makes suggestions as well.

Parents, as well as teachers and librarians, have also embraced the books. Titles feature a letter from Ryan’s mother, former teacher Loann Kaji — who regularly appears in Ryan’s content, along with his father and two sisters — about the family’s emphasis on reading. “There’s this mom-to-mom component,” Garfield explained. “It strikes a chord with parents who are desperate to get their kids off the screen.”

The Ryan’s World and Ryan’s Mystery Playdate books are just one portion of a broader program with YouTube content distributor, which creates global franchises from the YouTube stars and characters loved by Generation Alpha. Future titles with other network stars are currently under discussion.

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