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'Wimpy Kids" Unite and Buy 47 Million Books

Friday, 5 Nov 2010 | 3:17 PM ET
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

It's not necessary to launch an entire multimedia campaign—game, movie, website or even a balloon in the Macy’s parade—to promote a book, but it hasn’t hurt the Diary of a Wimpy Kid,which has sold more than 40 million books since 2007.

“I don’t think you have to have a franchise to be successful,” Michael Jacobs, CEO of Abrams Books, which published the book, told CNBC Friday.

But the "Wimpy Kid" phenomenon has become a franchise, including a board game, five books and two movies. One of the movies, released earlier this year, grossed $64 million. Some 70 million kids click onto the website daily.

Jacobs, a former librarian who oversaw the Harry Potter series for Scholastic Books, declined to say how much the company has made on "Wimpy" books. He expects, though, that the franchise will get a boost when some 51 million people see the Wimpy Kid balloon, debuting at the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving Day.

"Wimpy Kid" Economy
Insight on the third installment of a multi-million dollar juggernaut, with Jeff Kinney, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" creator, and Michael Jacobs, Abrams Books CEO.

Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney said he had three goals in mind when creating the Wimpy Kid character. He said he wanted it to be funny, for the message not to talk down or be moralizing and that it be illustrated with cartoons.

The print books are designed to look like a school notebook with lined pages and drawings.

Kinney, still a full-time Web designer, first produced "Wimpy" online as a daily comic strip.

“It teaches kids that reading can be fun,” he added. “One of the greatest compliments I receive is when parents tell me, the book turned their kid into a reader.”

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