Factors Affecting Collectibility: Franchise Books

Childrens Picturebook Price Guide

There are a number of books which have become franchise books for their creator(s). In these cases, the book is the introduction of a character or characters, which the creator uses in many subsequent books. In all cases, the collectibility of the first book in the series is enhanced. Numerous examples of franchise books come to mind, such as Madeline, Babar, or Eloise.

The first edition book introducing the franchise character or characters usually has high market value relative to a particular illustrator's other books. In many cases the initial franchise book was under printed relative to the demand for the book, since the popularity of the character was unknown at the time of the first printing. Related to this, the first book in the franchise was printed in substantially lower quantities than other books in the franchise, since success was paved for the later books.

In many cases the other first edition books in the successful, multi-year, multi-book franchise will also have higher collectibility, all other things being equal. The Petunia books, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, who illustrated over 118 books, tend to have a higher market value than Duvoisin's numerous other books. The same can be said for Hilary Knight's Eloise books, as compared to the other books that he illustrated. There are many, many examples of franchise books, and the table provides but a few examples from various eras within the picturebook industry. The astute collector should be aware of new books which have long-term franchise potential.

Franchise Books—Selected Examples





Lois Lenski

The Little Family


Jean de Brunhoff

The Story of Babar


Ludwig Bemelmans



H. A. Rey

Curious George


Roger Duvoisin



Hilary Knight



Crockett Johnson

Harold And The Purple Crayon


Theodor Geisel

The Cat In The Hat


Maurice Sendak

Little Bear


Stan & Jan Berenstain

The Big Honey Hunt


Mercer Mayer

Just For You (Little Critter)


Marc Brown

Arthur's Nose


William Joyce

Rolie Polie Olie


Hollie Hobby

Toot & Puddle


Ian Falconer


Six Key Factors

xx The collectible contemporary children's book market is evolving and maturing, although the hobby has not yet reached adolescence. The factors that affect a book's value and collectibility are not solidified within the hobby. The current state is Caldecott and Seuss-centric, synchronous with 'mainstream' collectible books, in that every bookseller KNOWS they have value. However I believe the hobby will mature into something significantly different.

With this in mind, we've identified six factors which affect the collectibility and value of a contemporary children's picturebook. The six factors are a starting point for dialogue within the hobby, which will create some controversy and discourse. Over time, this collaborative tension will lead to evaluation and evolution of the factors generally accepted to affect a book's value and collectibility. Eventually these factors will become solidified within the hobby.

The six factors are intimately connected, so it is difficult to individually describe one without intermingling the description with the other factors. One factor will invariably impact other factors. Not one to retreat from a challenge, we will try nonetheless.


Stan Zielinski, author of the Children's Picturebook Price Guide, is a serious collector having fun with fun books.

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