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In news not quite relating to my last post about Amazon and their child-catching publishing house, McDonald’s will now be giving away books in their Happy Meal boxes.

That’s right, the company which has for so long relied on interactive plastic movie tie-ins to sell their food to kids has partnered with HarperCollins.  As reported by The Telegraph, kids will be getting real, printed words in their cardboard houses, words written by none other than Michael Morpurgo.

The giveaway of Mudpuddle Farm books will also give McDonald’s a new revenue stream; they will become the UK’s biggest children’s book distributer when they give away 9 million copies over the next four weeks.

So, are books the new movies? Are flimsy pages going to prove as popular as fantastic plastic toys? McDonald’s are clearly not convinced. A character finger puppet will also be included in the box of goodies. And it does seem fortuitous that this book promotion is being released at the same time as War Horse, which is (of course) an adaption of Morpurgo’s book of the same name. So the movie tie-ins haven’t been completely abandoned.

And, as it turns out, fast-food chains have long been tradeing on literacy. Pizza Hut has been running their BOOK IT! reading incentive in the States, Canada and Puerto Rico for years. Run through schools, when each child reaches their reading goal they’re rewarded with a free pizza at (you’ll never guess where) Pizza Hut!

Clearly, fast food and books have more of a relationship than I first assumed.