PRH buys literary merchandise company Out of Print

PRH buys literary merchandise company Out of Print

Penguin Random House has acquired a New York-based company specialising in creating and selling licensed illustrated literary-themed products called Out of Print. The move is a bid to expand its author and brand-based merchandising.

Out of Print produces t-shirts and other clothing for both adults and children, as well as accessories and homeware featuring book-cover art and original designs, functioning as "literary conversation pieces". The company was founded in 2010 and it now sells its merchandise in over 1,000 book, gift- and clothes shops and online at outofprintclothing.com. It also has a social mission to promote literacy, as part of which it contributes to funding literacy programmes and makes book donations for every item sold.

While it is based in the US, it is international in scope in terms of its worldwide consumer base and in the fact it will continue to license, create, and sell literary-themed apparel and other products from UK authors, author estates, illustrators, and publishers. 

The acquisition of the business closed on 1st June, said Nina von Moltke, executive vice president, director, publishing development and author platforms, and Todd Lawton and Jeffrey LeBlanc, the company’s co-founders. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The business will continue to operate independently out of its Manhattan headquarters, with Lawton and LeBlanc serving in newly created positions of managing director for Out of Print, reporting to Alison Rich, vice president, publishing innovation development, PRH.

According to PRH, the company has relationships with prominent authors, author estates, publishers, visual artists and designers, and licensing agencies, which it plans to build upon. It has previously worked with PRH as a licensor, which relationship evolved into a strategic partnership on special projects and events. Product tie-ins it has already worked on in the US include Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale, Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Ian Flemming's James Bond books Casino Royale and Moonraker, among other Penguin Classics.

Moltke said: “Through their outstanding creativity and business-building Out of Print has created recognition and revenue for authors, illustrators, and publishers, and meaningful, fun experiences for readers. With their forward-thinking entrepreneurship, joyful collaborative spirit, and shared social values, they will be enthusiastically welcomed as new members of the Penguin Random House family. We are excited to grow Out of Print’s business together with Jeff and Todd, in collaboration with our publishers, designers, and sales groups, as we provide our authors and retailers with many more literary merchandising opportunities.”

Out of Print founders, Lawton and LeBlanc, said: “Since our earliest days Penguin Random House has supported our mission to build awareness and excitement around books.  We believe that books, and the infinite ways to experience and enjoy them, have the power to bring people together. Working hand-in-hand with Penguin Random House is a tremendous opportunity for all our partners, and for our fans, globally to express their passion for their favorite reading. We cannot be more excited to start writing the next chapter in the Out of Print story.”