Biggest New-Product Launch in Out Of Print History
Facial masks this spring and summer are making profound health, political, entrepreneurial, fashion, and now literary statements—the last thanks to a just-debuting line of face coverings presented, together with the American Booksellers Association (ABA), by Out of Print (OOP), the Manhattan-based Penguin Random House company that is the leading creator of licensed book-centric apparel and accessory items celebrating the lifestyle of literature and reading. Made of polyester and cotton, the masks are on sale from outofprint.com, and, the week of July 6, at bookstores nationwide, for $12 each.
The seven mask styles, a mix of licensed book art and original designs, which were available for pre-order in late June, sold more than 13,000 in its first week.
With this demand, the Out of Print Literary Masks has become the biggest new-product launch in the company’s ten-year history, according to Todd Lawton, Managing Director and Co-Founder, with Jeff LeBlanc, of the company.
The three most popular mask selections to date have been “The Pigeon,” based on art from the Mo Willems book; and “Bookshelf” and “Banned Books,” both OOP original designs. Others in the series are “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” inspired by the Douglas Adams novel; “Book Nerd,” an OOP + Underlined collaboration; “Curl Up with a Book,” an OOP original design; and “Books, Books, Books,” an OOP + Penguin Teen collaboration.
The project began in April when the ABA contacted OOP seeking masks that were book-themed for store staff and readers. The opportunity to keep booksellers, and their customers, protected and safe, while wearing prominently their connection to books, was exciting and motivating, Mr. Lawton recalled. The ABA is promoting the masks via their marketing channels to its membership. A portion of each sale is being donated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to assist bookstores impacted by COVID-19.
Allison K. Hill, Chief Executive Officer, American Booksellers Association, observed, “Out of Print has always been a great partner to the indies and a great example of blending social responsibility with business. ABA is excited about this launch and very grateful for Out of Print’s support of Binc.”
Since its beginnings in 2010 as an independent company, and continuing after its purchase by Penguin Random House in 2017, Out of Print has made social responsibility and giving back financially a core tenet of its business model and philosophy. As recent examples, the company donated 100% of its profits from its sales on June 2—$50,000—to Black Lives Matter. They also collaborated anew with author Mo Willems on a “Take Heart” COVID-19 Benefit tee shirt created from an original illustration of his, with 100% of the profits donated to World Central Kitchen to support emergency workers and pandemic-stricken communities. Over the past decade, OOP has donated over four million books to the underserved.
Mr. Lawton said, “We believe in the transformative power of books. Our products enable readers to proudly show the world their love of reading and their connectivity to favorite authors, as they bring their work to the attention of a wider audience.”