Publishing Column

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In the ever-expanding world of multimedia publishing, the recent marriage of Dr. Seuss and the compact disk seems to be a natural sequel to Theodor Seuss Geisel's last book, Oh The Places You'll Go.

Last month, Living Books, a joint venture of Random House Inc. and Broderbund Software Inc., announced it had acquired the world multimedia rights to the late Mr. Geisel's 48 Seuss books.

Living Books will reveal which Seuss characters will be the first to venture into the land of CD-ROM this fall. The first animated Dr. Seuss book will be available next year for between $40 and $50.

A CD-ROM (read-only memory) computer disk looks like a music CD, but it has more than 500 times the storage capacity of a standard computer disk. CD-ROM's can store sound, text, music, and software applications that will launch characters into animation and dialogue when the computer user responds to screen prompts.

Robert Ammon, co-chairman of the National Council of Teachers of English/Children's Book Council committee, observes that the children's classics' move into electronic publishing is inevitable and not overly threatening to books.

"I have a hunch that CD-ROM's might do some important ice-breaking with children. They will have a concept of the story and will want more, so they will go to the book,'' he predicted.

Young children learning to read will be able to click onto words they cannot pronounce and the computer will say them out loud.

"Educators have been our biggest, most enthusiastic supporters,'' said Kathleen Burke, of Broderbund.

But the cost of these animated books and the computers they require may prevent many parents from buying the electronic Dr. Seuss tales for their children, noted Rose Timmons, the head of the children's division at Washington's Martin Luther King Library.

Given the current explosion in the educational CD-ROM market, Dr. Seuss and friends are moving in the right direction. According to the Washington-based Software Publishers Association, home educational-software sales increased from $146.1 million in 1992 to $242 million last year.

The family-technology market is also spurring ventures such as "Smart Computing for Kids,'' a special 32-page section that will be jointly produced, beginning in September, by Child and PC World magazines.

The collaborative effort combines the expertise of both publications and will appear quarterly in issues of each magazine.

More information is available from Lee Doyle at PC World at (415) 978-3168.

Vol. 13, Issue 32

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