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John Lewis Christmas Marketing

Mr Underbed book sells out following John Lewis plagiarism row


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

December 3, 2017 | 3 min read

Every printed copy of Chris Riddell's 1986 children's book Mr Underbed has now sold out following a media storm in which the author claimed John Lewis' 2017 Christmas ad had been influenced by his own work.

Mr Underbed book sells out following John Lewis plagiarism row

The 1986 children's book has sold out this Christmas following the media storm

Riddell's publisher, Andersen Press, confirmed earlier this week that it is to print 10,000 more copies of the book following an unprecedented seasonal boost. The new stock will hit UK shelves on Thursday 6 December.

The vintage title and John Lewis' own 'Moz the Monster' spot both tell the story of a friendly blue monster who lives under the bed of a little boy, rendering him unable to sleep.

John Lewis' hairy moment came a few weeks' back, after Riddell accused it of "helping itself" to his original ideas on Twitter.

"John Lewis help [itself] to my picture book,” tweeted Riddell, adding: “The idea of a monster under the bed is by no means new but the ad does seem to bear a close resemblance to my creation – a big blue unthreatening monster who rocks the bed and snores loudly."

At the time, John Lewis denied any suggestion of plagiarism saying that the story of a big hairy monster under the bed which keeps a child from sleeping was a "universal tale" which has been told many times over many years.

"Ours is a Christmas story of friendship and fun between Joe and Moz The Monster, in which Joe receives a night light which helps him get a good night's sleep. The main thrust of our story is utterly different to Chris Riddell's," the retailer added.

Since the controversy, Andersen Press has taken a playful approach to publicising the book online, running a 'Battle of the Monsters' campaign on Twitter and inviting readers to "create their own original monsters".

Riddell himself has been fairly relaxed about the similarities, writing on his Tumblr page on Thursday he said: "In this age of shrinking publicity budgets it is very generous of John Lewis to devote their Christmas advertising campaign to my 1986 picture book- seen here in the 2009 edition."

The book has been competing with John Lewis' own 'Moz the Monster' print edition, which has been available in-store since the ad's launch mid-November.

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