Landoll, a former coloring and activity book powerhouse whose name disappeared from the market shortly after McGraw-Hill Education purchased the company almost 15 years ago, is relaunching. It is debuting a line of coloring, activity, and puzzle books at the New York International Toy Fair this week.
Investment company SJS Acquisitions LLC backed the venture after being approached by the Landoll family at the beginning of this year. Rick Busby, a partner in SJS and a veteran of Landoll, McGraw-Hill, Golden Books, and American Greetings, will serve as CEO, while Jimmy Landoll, son of Landoll founder Jim Landoll, is the company’s president. “We had all the pieces [in place to relaunch], and we needed someone like Rick to help us put it all together,” said Landoll. “There’s been a lot of consolidation in coloring and activity, but it’s still a sizable market,” Busby believes. “There’s room for other players.”
Landoll’s focus will be on “B, C, and D” retailers, Busby and Landoll said. It has presented its line so far to chains such as Meijer, Five Below, A.C. Moore, and Big Lots. “We think the smaller chains are not being serviced well,” Busby explained. “We’re really going to pound the customer service.”
While licensed books dominate in the coloring and activity segment, Landoll will stay away from licensing for now, producing titles with everyday and holiday themes. “A lot of money is put toward the licensing, but not always the art,” said Busby, who estimates that non-licensed titles still drive 35% of units in the industry. “We’re working with freelance artists that have done work for the [Hollywood] studios, to give the books great artwork with a higher perceived value than most titles that go into these [regional] chains.”
McGraw-Hill bought Landoll from Tribune Education in 2000, along with Everyday Learning/Creative Publications, NTC/Contemporary Publishing, Instructional Fair, and the Wright Group. Tribune Education had acquired Landoll in 1997.
In an earnings call the year after the purchase, McGraw-Hill executives said they had been primarily interested in Landoll’s educational workbook business rather than its coloring, activity, and sticker book line. Eventually, it stopped using the name and abandoned the trademark, according to Jimmy Landoll, freeing the family to use the name again.
Books will be printed at Landoll’s plant in Ohio and will start shipping in April.