“Escape from Horrorland”I’m sure all readers who ever entered the children’s departments of libraries any time over the last 20 years remember Goosebumps, and how popular that series by R.L. Stine was in the late 80s and early 90s. I certainly remember how popular they were with kids in those pre-Harry Potter days.

The books have a special value for me because they, more than any other book or series, turned my daughter – who, believe me, was read to every night for many years from the time she was an infant, but whose pre-Goosebumps interest in reading books herself might be best described as “ambivalent” – into a reader.

So it’s good to hear that Stine, now 64, is getting back into the game with a new Goosebumps series called “Goosebumps Horrorland,” according to this New York Times article. Stine described to reporter Brian Stelter how the booming series finally petered out. Note the important role of the series’ “packager” in Goosebumps’ temporary demise.

(Has anyone ever written an article about who these packagers are, and exactly what they do? They seem to be everywhere in the publishing news these days. You can be sure that almost every big commercial paperback series you see these days has a packager behind it.)

Along the wall of Mr. Stine’s home office are testaments to the brand’s glory: a “Goosebumps” chocolate Advent calendar, a toothbrush holder, a box of Count Chocula cereal with a “Goosebumps” logo. At the height of “Goosebumps,” there was also a television series and talk of a possible movie.

But then the relationship between Scholastic and Parachute, the books’ packager, became strained. Ownership of licensing rights was disputed as early as 1996, and by the end of 1997 Scholastic had stopped paying advances to Parachute, and Parachute had filed suit. Around the same time, sales figures started weakening.

“The kids got tired of them,” Mr. Stine said simply. “There were too many of them out there.”

But there are still plenty of kids out there reading the old series – there are certainly lots of copies out there in lots of libraries – and writing Stine fan letters and e-mails. Both Stine and Scholastic are hoping that Horrorland will become a 21st-century hit.

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