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Golden turning page with Pokemon pickup

Publisher to translate game into books, products

A turnaround for kiddie publisher Golden Books Family Entertainment took more than baby steps Tuesday when it announced rights to translate No. 1 videogame Pokemon into two lines of books and a slew of novelty products.

The New York-based publisher, which has a July 13 date in bankruptcy court to seek approval of its reorganization plan, cut its multiyear deal with Leisure Concepts, Nintendo’s Gotham-based licensing agent.

Golden opportunity

Al Kahn, the chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment, the parent of Leisure Concepts, said due diligence by his financial team removed fears about Golden’s tenuous finances.

“That and the money they put on the table in advance,” added Kahn, who declined specifics.

Pokemon, a Japanese phrase for “pocket monster,” has been capturing children’s imaginations everywhere it’s exported.

Although relatively new to the States, it already has transcended its GameBoy origins to spawn a top-rated television show, some heavily hit-upon Web sites and a variety of licensed merchandise.

Pokemon also has inspired some printed materials, such as a workbook by Scholastic Inc.

Page products

Golden, however, will have exclusive rights in its publishing categories, which include storybooks and coloring-and-activity books, as well as stickers, tattoos and collectible postcards.

Golden chairman and CEO Richard Snyder, who with a team of investors a few years ago took over the leading children’s book publisher in North America, called the deal “the beginning of what promises to be a lucrative future.”

“Forgetting their financing problems for a minute,” he said, “Golden Books has always turned out a pretty wonderful product.”