Readersforum's Blog

December 3, 2012

The rise of the ‘Wimpy Kid’ empire

Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney is a kids book star. And, in many ways, his success reflects the publishing industry’s shifting landscape.

By Cristina Rouvalis

Jeff Kinney is a little loopy. The 41-year-old author-cartoonist has been working ’round the clock on his $550 million Wimpy Kid empire, juggling movies, personal appearances, and his latest book, The Third Wheel, which hit shelves on November 13.

Planted on a brown sectional in a tasteful living room in Plainville, Mass., Kinney seems a million miles away from the humiliations of middle school, the setting of his series. But this is where he stays up until 2 or 3 a.m. sending his fictional alter ego Greg “Wimpy Kid” Heffley, Greg’s big brother Rodrick, and sidekick Rowley into action. For his latest book, he’s been sketching black-and-white cartoons that throw Greg into the minefield of adolescent love.

Those sleepless nights have paid off big. More than 6.8 million copies of The Third Wheel will be printed — the largest first run of any book this year, according to Kinney’s publisher, Abrams. “It’s been a surreal experience,” says the soft-spoken author.

Kinney, a New York Times best-selling author for five years straight, is a publishing star. And, in many ways, his success reflects the changing landscape of the children’s book market.

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