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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.

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That (gratuitously sensational) headline is, of course, referring to the Amazon.com giant’s recent move into publishing with the acquisition of the Marshall Cavendish Children’s Book catalogue.

Although not their first foray into the publishing world, the catalogue, of over 450 children’s books, is Amazon’s first children’s publishing list acquisition and seems to have been driven by the upcoming Kindle Fire release. With Amazon now able to offer a colour service to eBook readers it is expected that their share in the market will increase dramatically, particularly with the kids book market.

We all know how appealing any colourful, interactive, super expensive product is to kids. You’ve probably seen this video of a toddler and her new-found magazine aversion:

A magazine is an iPad that does not work…

By acquiring the Marshall Cavendish back catalogue Amazon have not only lured yet another corner of the book market into their web (geddit?), they’ve also caught the generation of kids who grow up reading their books on a Kindle or Kindle Fire.

By becoming a publishing house Amazon are able to publish their catalogue exclusively to the Kindle through their site, and in the process they will probably secure a new generation of  Amazon users who are unable to access the books they want elsewhere.

What this means for the rest of the industry is a hot topic of debate, but we can rest assured it will have knock-on effects far and wide.

Recommended Reading:

Philip Jones on FutureBook 

Laura Hazard Owen on paidContent.org