First published by Simon & Schuster in 1955, the Eloise books have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide in English.

At a time when strong girl characters are all the rage, a resurgence in interest in the New-York-hotel-ensconced little girl and her dogs is perhaps no surprise, but in this instance the IP rights have attracted more than just a new edition.

For WorldScreen, Kristin Brzoznowski reports that,

MRC has secured film, television, live stage and related ancillary rights for the celebrated children’s IP Eloise, which began as a series of books written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight.

MRC will work closely with Handmade Films and collaborate with the Thompson estate, Knight, as well as Simon & Schuster, the book series’ publisher, to develop the property. Handmade’s Trudi Francis will serve as an executive producer on all productions.

Read more over at WorldScreen.

Here just to take a step back and consider the excited debate in some quarters where the relevance and future of publishers is questioned.

It’s true that there has been some leakage of talent as self-publishing has come of age and more and more authors who might once have queried an agent choose instead to go it alone.

But time and again we see successful self-publishers signing deals with mainstream publishers, and the reason for that is simple: mainstream publishers still have much to offer.

The early-decade doom-mongers predicting the fall and fall of mainstream publishing have been disappointed by publishing’s refusal to keel over, and the revival of the backlist has been a big part of that counter-balance in mainstream publishing’s survival strategy.

Time was the backlist was meaningful only to a handful of timeless authors, because the economics of print and bricks & mortar distribution does not favour an endless supply of not-quite-popular-enough titles crammed into bookstores.

Digital changed everything. Early-adopter self-publishers were the first to understand this. Back in the early days of self-publishing many traditionally published authors were sitting on rights-reverted content that had no future in the bricks-&-mortar world of bookselling, but suddenly became hot property in the digital world, where entire new rafts of readers could be reached.

Digital – ebooks, POD, audio – breathed new life into the backlist, and traditional publishers quickly rose to the new opportunity.

Today the backlist drives sales across the spectrum of formats, reaching new readers both at home and abroad.

And that in turn creates new opportunities in the wider digital world of video, music and games, and in turn new opportunities in analogue verticals like plays and toys.

The latest news about the 65 year old Eloise books perfectly typifies the new world where content long-since forgotten by many and unheard of by even more, can be given a new lease of life for old fans and potentially attract millions of new fans across formats and verticals and in territories barely conceivable a decade ago.

And its no one-off. Enid Blyton’s wonderful girls boarding school series Malory Towers is being remade as a TV series, and the latest musical adaptation of Astrid Lindgren’s 1940s Pippi Longstocking hits theatres this month.

Publishers will be laughing all the way to the bank.