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Living Books collection

 Collection — Box: 1-14
Identifier: 116.246
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.


  • 1987-2004
  • Majority of material found in 1993-1997


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.


7 Linear Feet (14 boxes)


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.

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.

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.

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.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic, May-June 2016


Finding Aid to the Living Books Collection, 1987-2004
Julia Novakovic
8 June 2016
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)