Licensees Need to Loosen Up, Says Egmont Kids Digital Director

In Children's, What's the Buzz by Dennis Abrams

The problem is that as each new platform gets hyped, user’s demands rise exponentially.

By Dennis Abrams

Peter Schroder, Digital Director, Egmont Kids Media

COPENHAGEN: Transmedia has been a buzzword for sometime, but in relatively few instances have publishers truly been able to fulfill the promise of delivering gratifying multi-platform experiences. One of those keen to see the promise of transmedia turned into a reality is Peter Schroder, Digital Director of Egmont Kids Media.

Copenhagen-based Egmont says, “We bring stories to life,” and states its corporate interests as “magazines, books, movie theaters, movies, TV, comic books, school books, communities, games and game consoles” — making clear their intention to conquer the world of transmedia. But, according to Schroder, there is at least one major obstacle in the way: licensees.

As Schroder sees it, the problem is that licensors need to better prepare themselves to issue broader licenses right from the start. “The children that we are targeting need to be able to have access to video, audio, animation — interaction with a certain brand. The core is conveying stories in a way that is effective and interesting for the audience. The problem is that as each new platform gets hyped, user’s demands rise exponentially. Basic interaction becomes a game, and licensers are not keeping up with expectations.”

Those holding licenses, Schroder believes, are still being too cautious. “They’re reacting with ‘maybe, but let’s start here and start something basic for the interactive element, and we’ll then see how it develops.’” But when that’s the case, says Schroder, we as an industry are falling behind rather than leading the way –- and shouldn’t it be necessary for publishers to be leading the way?

This is just one of the issues that Schroder, along with Paula Allen of Nickelodeon Global Publishing, will be discussing as part of “Licensing into the Ether: Selling bits and bytes into a global market,” a presentation of Publishers Launch “Children’s Publishing Goes Global” conference being held on October 11 as part of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

This will be Schroder’s first year at Frankfurt, and he’s eager to see what it has to offer. “It will be interesting to see how digital it has become and interesting to compare it to Bologna,” he says, “there was very little digital in Bologna and none of the majors were there.”

His ultimate goal can be seen as just as much ideological as it is commercial: he wants to streamline the process and make it work more efficiently so as to allow children to learn and thrive in a digital world: “Magazine reading experiences will be defined by new models arriving. Schools will be judged by how well they’re taking on tablet devices.” And the first step to reaching those goals is to begin meaningful discussion with major licensors in the industry to meet the challenges in moving from print to digital.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.