By By: Vicki Tillis

      Certain assets of Books Are Fun Ltd. are being bought from its owner Reader's Digest Association Inc. by Imagine Nation Books Ltd. of Boulder, Colo.

      Those assets, explained Ben Kaplan, executive director of Imagine Nation Books, include the majority of Books Are Fun's intellectual property, such as its name, trademarks and information on its computer system server.

      The assets also include Books Are Fun's inventory, certain warehouse leases and certain rights with contracted representatives, Kaplan continued.

      According to Kaplan, Imagine Nation Books has a "no compete agreement" with Reader's Digest Association. Both are display-marketing companies that contract with independent sales representatives to sell books, gifts and other products through events or "fairs" at businesses, schools, hospitals and other organizations, but Reader's Digest will no longer have display marketing, he explained.

      Reader's Digest Association will retain ownership of the Books Are Fun office in Fairfield. Kaplan said he did not know what plans Reader's Digest had for the company.

      A call to Reader's Digest Association's vice president of global communications, William Adler, was not returned this morning. But a Market Watch Inc. news release states following the closing of the transaction, Reader's Digest will wind down Books Are Fun's remaining operations. The transaction is expected to close in late December, subject to customary closing conditions.

      Kaplan's father Earl started Books Are Fun in the fall of 1990 out of the little two-bedroom house on Iowa Avenue in Fairfield.

      According to Kaplan, his father hired a couple of people and they worked out of the family's kitchen.

      "It took off very quickly," he recalled. "It was the American dream playing out right before our eyes."

      Earl Kaplan sold Books Are Fun to Reader's Digest in 1999 for $380 million. He later organized Imagine Nation Books and is CEO of the company.

      Kaplan said his father and his brother have always spoken highly of the Books Are Fun personnel.

      "Its great strength is its people," he said.

      Imagine Nation Books, he continued, is working with Reader's Digest to put up job postings and will be reviewing resumes and offering jobs to qualified Books Are Fun personnel who are willing to relocate to the company's headquarters in Boulder.

      "It's a great opportunity for everybody involved," said Kaplan.

      Although Books Are Fun took off quickly, the market began to steadily shrink, but now is it reversing, said Kaplan.

      "It should become healthy again, and the earning potential will go up for reps," he said. "We want to make it a strong business again."

      The Reader's Digest Association and Imagine Nation Books announced the acquisition Wednesday.

      Imagination Nation Books will pay approximately $17.5 million payable over three years.

For this article, see the Thursday, November 13, 2008, Fairfield Ledger.

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