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This is today's book, so I am now officially caught up, yay.

When I was six years old, I saved up a lot of birthday and Christmas money and bought a teddy bear, for sixty dollars. It was the most money I'd ever had, and the most I'd ever spent on anything, and my parents were not happy about it but allowed themselves to be talked into it. I had not at that point read Michael Bond's Paddington Bear books, but the bear is a Paddington, at the time I bought him taller than I was; I could wear his duffel coat. Twenty-three years later, he's lost his coat, hat, boots and label but he is on my bed where he's always been. I don't travel with him much anymore now that he's old enough to vote, but he's the first thing-that-can't-move-by-itself that I'd grab in a fire.

I didn't read the books for several years after that, actually, I'm not even sure I knew about them, so my history with the Bond version of Paddington is that I consider the books good fun but the personality of Paddington in them definitely non-canonical as the author had not met my bear.

I found out as an adult that Paddington is considered one of the most impressive instances of successful toy merchandising of all time, and I have to say that from personal experience that does seem to be the case. I don't know why I had to have that particular bear, so much as to save up for months, but I did have to. This book is a history of the writing of the original books by Bond (who was apparently a BBC cameraman at the time, who knew), but also a history of the merchandising and spin-offs-- there were stop-motion animated films made, and of course the basic stuffed bear had happened not long after the books, but the animated films cost so much that Bond started licensing all sorts of other Paddington things in an effort to pay for them, and then the whole thing hit Japan and now Bond is basically running his own industry. The sheer number of Paddington objects out there is really kind of frightening.

As with any official corporate history, this is slightly more adulatory than one might really desire, and does not wish to go into any of the messiness that might exist between people-- various reconfigurations of business partnerships are presented with a great insistence that everyone has always been happy about all of it, at all times. And of course there are directions in which it does not wish to talk about money, such as, for instance, how much of that might be involved in a general sort of way.

But as a look at how really successful business licensing works, it's mildly interesting, and I had no idea the animated films even existed and am now rather curious about them. So not a waste of time, and pleasant for me personally as it explains some things about how and why my bear might have got to the store in which I bought him. I do suspect this of not being a book of general interest, however. It's too official-biography for that.


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March 2017

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