The Rainbow Loom—a loom for weaving jewelry and other objects out of colorful rubber bands that has become one of the hottest toys this holiday season—has been a boon to children’s publishers that got ahead of the trend. “The rubber band loom frenzy has been staggering... in the best way!” said Susan Sullivan, v-p, editorial at Leisure Arts. The loom was developed by Cheong Choon Ng of Michigan, and its popularity has prompted a handful of developers to release other versions of the toy. The nationwide sensation is also sending publishers who have released related how-to books back to the printers, again and again.
Leisure Arts’ entry in the loom books war is Rubber Band Loom Crafts. The company has four different versions of the title in the market, as it has customized the book to meet the needs of different retailers. Rubber Band was originally published in November, and Rick Barton, president and CEO at Leisure Arts, said that “there has been no slowdown in activity” leading into the holiday season. He expects sales of the title to approach one million copies by year’s end.
“The day we decided to move ahead [on loom books], our publisher, Tony Lyons, was at a playground with his daughter Elsa, and her friends were all doing rubber band crafts,” said Bill Wolfsthal, associate publisher, and director of sales and marketing at Skyhorse Publishing. “When he asked Elsa what they were all doing, a mother sitting next to him on the park bench asked, in a slightly condescending way, ‘You don’t know about Rainbow Loom?’ ”
Not long after that, Sky Pony Press, Skyhorse’s children’s book imprint, acquired Loom Magic! by John McCann and Becky Thomas. The publisher was stocking books in the warehouse less than four weeks after the deal was inked. Loom Magic! was released in November, and Sky Pony has since gone back to press seven times, with 250,000 copies now in print. The publisher is following up with Loom Magic XTreme!, slated for release in January, with an announced print run of 100,000, and Loom Magic Creatures!, slated for a March publication.
Deborah Johnson is the book buyer for Barstons Child’s Play, which has five book and toy stores in the Washington, D.C., area, and one location in Baltimore. Rainbow Loom is one of the store’s more popular items, and its bestselling corresponding book is Sky Pony’s Loom Magic! “That’s the one we were able to get our hands on,” said Johnson. “We bought out Baker & Taylor. We like it because it goes beyond jewelry.” Barnes & Noble currently carries two books on rubber band jewelry, and according to Mary Amicucci, v-p, adult trade and children’s books, both are “selling well.”
Fox Chapel’s Totally Awesome Rubber Band Jewelry, published in October, had an initial print run of 140,000, and the entire run was sold before the books landed in the warehouse. The publisher has gone back to press two more times, with more than 600,000 copies in print for the holiday season; it’s also been on PW’s trade paperback bestseller list for four weeks.