Living Books collection Edit


Finding Aid Author
Julia Novakovic
Finding Aid Date
8 June 2016
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


  • 1987-2004 (Creation)
  • 1993-1997 (Creation)


  • 7 Linear Feet (Whole)

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    The Living Books collection is a compilation of corporate records, financial documents, product development documentation, marketing materials, publicity clippings, reference materials, and more. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1993 and 1997.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.

  • Custodial History

    The Living Books collection was donated to The Strong in January 2016 as a gift from Jeff Schon. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 116.246 and were received from Jeff Schon in 6 boxes.

  • Preferred citation for publication

    Living Books collection, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong

  • Processed by

    Julia Novakovic, May-June 2016

  • Historical Note

    Computer software giant Brøderbund Software, Inc. developed a series of “Living Books” multimedia CD-ROMs for children in 1992. The success of this product line spurred the creation of another company within Brøderbund which would focus solely on story-based, interactive software for children. In 1994, Living Books was formed as a separate company owned by Brøderbund and Random House, Inc. Living Books then hired Jeff Schon, an executive with more than 20 years of experience in animation and entertainment production, as its CEO and President. Under Schon’s direction, Living Books acquired licensing rights to popular children’s book characters, including The Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, Arthur, Stellaluna, and the works of Dr. Seuss. Between 1994 and 1997, Living Books products won dozens of national awards and sold millions of units.

    In January 1997, Random House sold its 50% interest in Living Books back to Brøderbund. The Learning Company then purchased Brøderbund in 1998 and immediately terminated more than 500 former Brøderbund employees. Mattel acquired The Learning Company a year later, and subsequent transactions effectively rendered the original Brøderbund defunct. Living Books ceased operations as a result of the 1998 takeover, but publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt purchased the rights to the Living Books titles and content.

    In 2010, Wanderful, Inc. established Wanderful Interactive Storybooks based on the original Living Books products, with the approval of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As of 2016, these interactive story apps are available on Apple, Android, and Amazon.

  • Collection Scope and Content Note

    The Living Books collection documents the creation of Living Books as a separate company owned by both Brøderbund Software, Inc. and Random House, Inc. and its operations through 1997. Material types in this collection include corporate records, financial documents, product development documentation, marketing materials, publicity clippings, reference materials, and more. When possible, original folder titles as labeled by Jeff Schon were retained. Additional scope and content information can be found in the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

    The Living Books collection is arranged into nine series, two of which have been further divided into subseries. The collection is housed in 14 archival document boxes.

  • System of Arrangement

    Series I: Corporate information, 1991-1996

    Subseries A: Mission
    Subseries B: Annual reports
    Subseries C: Company meetings
    Subseries D: Board of Trustees meetings
    Subseries E: Agreements

    Series II: Financial documentation, 1994-1997

    Series III: Marketing and sales, 1993-1998

    Subseries A: Market research and reference
    Subseries B: Marketing plans and projects
    Subseries C: Sales accounts and distributors
    Subseries D: Sales conferences

    Series IV: Product development, 1993-1997

    Series V: Personnel, 1994-1997

    Series VI: Correspondence, 1994-1997

    Series VII: News and publicity clippings, 1992-1997

    Series VIII: Reference, 1987-2004

    Series IX: Miscellaneous, n.d.

External Documents


  • Type
    Container 1 Type
    Container 1 Indicator
    Container 1 Barcode
    Living Books collection