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'Star Wars' Expanding Its Empire of Readers

May 12, 1999

There are kids books, coloring books, audio books, activity books, posters, calendars, puzzles, markers, CDs and cassettes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Forget about the toy collectibles. There are more than 100 publishing tie-ins to "Phantom Menace," the "Star Wars" prequel that will debut next week--so many that bookstores are receiving an instructional videotape on how to construct the display (which is 7 feet tall and includes a full-size droid).

"It took almost three hours to put the thing together," says J.P. Wolfe, general manager of Borders Books in West Hollywood. "It's amazing what Lucas is exacting upon us booksellers."

The centerpiece of this plethora of offerings is "Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace" (Ballantine), an adaptation by Terry Brooks of the George Lucas screenplay. According to Brooks, "Lucas wanted the book to be a companion piece to the movie--not a carbon copy. He wanted readers to learn new things . . . and have new and different insights."

The 300-plus page book is available with four different covers featuring characters from the film. And the publishing Force doesn't stop there. Other "Star Wars" books expected this year include the illustrated scripts by Lucas, a "making of" book, and the launching of a new fiction series with the first installment set 25 years after the events in the original "Star Wars."

Then there's Star Wars Kids, the Magazine for Young Jedi Knights, which targets young fans of the movie franchise. Profiles, puzzle and joke pages, a letter-writing forum and more are geared for sci-fi readers, ages 7 to 12. The current issue features a tour of bounty hunter Boba Fett's ship and a behind-the-scenes look at "Men in Black: The Animated Series."

As subscriber David, 11, of Glendora says, "Every month I get an issue of Star Wars Kids, and I can't wait to get the next one! I like it because it has mazes, quizzes . . . and a comic at the end." Star Wars Kids also comes with a role-playing book, a set of dice and character, weapon and vehicle cards.

For more information on "Stars Wars" paraphernalia, log on to http://www.shop.starwars.com.

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