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Klutz® Hits the Mark with Creative Inquisitive Kids Everywhere
(Employee newsletter article, 2004)
 

2004 looks like a landmark year for Klutz. Already published in English, Italian, and Spanish, Klutz was introduced in Korean in April and will launch in Portuguese in Brazil before the end of the year. In all, Klutz will now be published in five languages and 15 countries. The brand is sold both through Scholastic businesses and through independent publishers around the world.

 

Among the pioneers of the “book plus” format—a book packaged with toys, tools, or other materials to actively involve readers—Klutz was founded in 1977 by three college friends in California and was acquired by Scholastic in 2002. Today, it is a huge international success, far exceeding co-founder John Cassidy’s expectations.

 

“We started with the juggling book [Juggling for the Complete Klutz] and thought that would be a huge, instant success and that would be it,” Cassidy said. The good news is that he’s not disappointed with how things turned out. “I have a great job and I’m really proud of the fact that we’re making high-quality books that deliver value— teaching science, crafts, art, and nurturing creativity—yet are well salted with mischief and fun.”

 

Ink Worldwide recently spoke with Klutz Vice President of International and Special Markets, Mark Judge, to get a perspective on the company’s international growth.

 

Why do you think Klutz has been so successful in so many markets?

With few exceptions, the subject matter is universal. Wherever there are creative, inquisitive kids, Klutz will be a hit. Klutz also has a unique voice that acknowledges how smart kids are and that they have a sense of humor. We don’t speak down to them; we’re right next to them, helping them learn a fun new skill.

 

I also think that Scholastic and Klutz together is a natural collaboration. Scholastic brings to Klutz the tremendous school market both in the U.S. and around the world, as well as Scholastic’s well-established distribution to trade outside the U.S.

 

Klutz is distributed by Scholastic through schools and retail stores in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Scholastic representatives in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East are now selling Klutz to their customers. Since we were acquired by Scholastic 2 1/2 years ago, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with Scholastic folks from all corners of the world. They all bring creativity and a great deal of enthusiasm to the task of making Klutz a household name in their part of the world.

 

What are some of the challenges of publishing Klutz in a new language?

The greatest challenge is finding the right publishing partner. This is where Scholastic has been a huge help—we work closely with the international rights team to identify the best companies. We’re looking for publishers that understand the brand and really take it to heart.

 

A great example is one of our Spanish publishers, Catapulta Children’s Entertainment of Argentina. This is a family-owned business that literally became a publisher to bring Klutz to Argentina. The family was on vacation in New York when their daughter insisted on buying Braids & Bows. They called us and said, “We don’t have a company yet, but we want to publish these books in Argentina.” Today, between Catapulta and another Spanish publisher, Novelty Corp de Mexico, there are over 400,000 Klutz books in print in Spanish. Scholastic Argentina and Scholastic Mexico have recently begun to provide Klutz books to schools. They now have a local source for Klutz books in both Spanish and English. Catapulta Children’s Entertainment and Novelty Corp de Mexico are looking forward to working with their Scholastic counterparts in expanding the distribution of Klutz.

 

Tell us about the launches in Korean and Portuguese.

Korea was very exciting because we launched with 20 titles just in time for “Children’s Day” this past May. The publisher, Nexus, is finding Klutz to be popular among young parents. We’re working with Catapulta on the Portuguese launch in Brazil, and we expect to introduce eight titles by the end of 2004.

 

Are there any Klutz products that kids everywhere love?

Actually most of our best sellers are consistent no matter where you look. Our craft books about making floss bracelets [Friendship Bracelets], or making tiny fairy dolls [Fairies], seem to capture kids’ imaginations everywhere. One title that does well elsewhere but is a real stand-out in the U.K. is Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered. The book’s co-author, Quentin Blake, is a native of the U.K. and illustrated many of Roald Dahl’s books. He also was appointed the first-ever Children’s Laureate in England in 1999.

 

Where to next for Klutz?

We will be launching Klutz in Greece next year. Also, although a specific timetable has not yet been set, we’re working with Les Éditions Scholastic to introduce Klutz to French-speaking Canada. As part of the Scholastic family I think we’re in the best possible position to cultivate a whole new crop of Klutz fans!

 

 

[ SIDEBAR # 1  ]

Klutz Fast Facts

 

Home base:  Palo Alto, California
 

Published here:  Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, U.K., U.S., and Uruguay
 

Total Klutzniks (employees):  About 65 full-time
 

Total products: 103 books (packaged, of course, with everything you need) + 12 toys + 30 interactive educational toys = 145 products in all.
 

The Klutz Store: Also located in Palo Alto.  This 600-square-foot retail location is a destination for Klutz fans of all ages.  Almost every Saturday there is a special Klutz activity at the store. The Scholastic Store in New York also boasts a huge Klutz collection.
 

Klutz Book Factory®: The Klutz Book Factory is Klutz’s most exciting new initiative, now entering its third year of a pilot program.  At a Book Factory “build-a-book” event, students and their parents spend an hour or two creating uniquely personal books. Klutz provides a blank book along with arts and crafts supplies such as glue sticks, colorful foam, and fancy papers. Kids leave with a one-of-a-kind treasure. "It’s one thing to take home a book about dogs,” says John Cassidy, co-founder of Klutz, “but it’s quite another to take home a book about YOUR dog."
 

More than 100 schools in Northern California and Canada will host Book Factory build-a-book events in the ’04-’05 school year.  "We have enormous and irresponsible hopes for the Book Factory," says Cassidy.  In October, the Scholastic store on Broadway opened the world’s first permanent Klutz Book Factory, where the staff hosts school field trips, private birthday parties, and walk-in book builders.

 

Open invite: Klutz says Scholastic family members should stop by the Palo Alto location whenever they are in the neighborhood.  Klutz is less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco.  “We would love to meet you and we never miss a chance to show off our unique offices.” The Klutz office features – among other interesting items – a floor-to-ceiling Lego-building wall and chalk board; Four-Square area for "Friday's Four Square tournaments”; bleacher seating for company meetings; hopscotch area at the front door; life-size fabric palm trees; colorfully illustrated and themed bathrooms; a garage for a conference room - with a real garage door; the FREE box - where one Klutznik's castoffs are another Klutznik's treasure; Bob the resident cat; and a giant gumball machine.

 

[ SIDEBAR # 2  ]

A Gazillion Great Gift Ideas from Klutz!

(OK, really we just have room for five. But there could be a lot more!)

 

With one of the biggest gift-giving seasons upon us, Ink asked the fun experts at Klutz to give us a list of their top five favorite gifts. They wanted to offer more, but we managed to narrow it down.

 

1.  For the beginning crafter on your list: Knitting
Both trendy and traditional, the easiest how-to-knit kit you'll ever find.
 

2.  For the retro-artist on your list: Velvet Art: Create Fabulous Fuzzy Masterpieces
Finally, velvet art with the imagination, inspiration, and artwork such a cool format deserves.
 

3.   For the jewelry-maker on your list: Picture Bracelets
A quick and stylish way to make jewelry to wear or share.
 

4.  For the high-flyer on your list: The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes
A step-by-step guide to folding aerobatic amazements.
 

5.  For the music-lover on your list: Nancy Cassidy's KidsSongs Boxed Set
Two CDs of children's music combined with a book of lyrics for sing-alongs.
 

 

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copyright 2012, Carole Dicton