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LITERARY LICENSING

King, Patterson are America’s Favorite Authors

The J.K. Rowling-created world of Harry Potter has been licensed for everything from pajama pants to theme parks (already in Orlando, Fla, and Japan, the newest Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2016). Yet, the powerful author ranks only No. 3 on the list of the 10 most popular authors with U.S. readers.

The only other author on the The Harris Poll Top 10 list of America’s favorites with a brand so heavily licensed is J.R.R. Tolkien, whose The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings franchises reside in the same fantasy genre and offer youth appeal similar to Harry Potter’s. What both franchises also have in common is the fact that much of their licensing activity is based on filmed extensions rather than the actual books.

A Sad Chapter for Book Property Licensing

Retail sales of book-licensed merchandise total a relatively low $500 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2014, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey. That was down 2% from 2013 and the lowest total in 5 years, reflecting a very gradually declining market. Books make up the smallest slice of the publishing property type, behind newspapers/magazines ($2.71 billion in 2014) and comic books/strips ($1.25 billion).

Licensing of book-based properties is dominated by children’s titles and characters. While none of The Harris Poll‘s Top 10 authors are strictly children’s authors, the works of Rowling and Tolkien are perhaps most often read by young people. James Patterson has also written for kids. His Maximum Ride series of young adult fantasy novels, for instance, has been licensed for manga and comic books.

Merchandise inspired by many of the writers’ works can be found online at custom printing retailers including Zazzle, Café Press and Redbubble.

Click here for more information about the sector in TLL’s Guide to Publishing Based Properties.

America’s Favorite Authors
NR = Not Ranked
RANKING: The Harris Poll
2015
Rank
2010
Rank
Author Publisher
1 1 Stephen King Simon & Schuster
2 2 James Patterson Hachette Book Group
3 9 J.K. Rowling Bloomsbury Publishing
4 3 John Grisham Doubleday
4 6 Dean Koontz Bantam Dell Publishing
6 4 Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb Penguin Books
7 9 J.R.R. Tolkien HarperCollins
7 NR Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens Public domain/UC Press
9 NR Nicholas Sparks Grand Central Publishing
10 7 Danielle Steel Delacorte Press

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