As R.L. Stine sat in his Manhattan apartment in early 1996 cranking out the latest of his Goosebumps kiddie horror books, a real-life thriller was unfolding across town. Stine's wife, Jane, had showed up at Scholastic Inc., where she spent her career before starting her own publishing company. With her was partner Joan Waricha, Scholastic's former editor-in-chief. According to court documents later filed by Scholastic, Waricha demanded return of the merchandising rights to Goosebumps, which the pair had launched through Scholastic four years earlier.
Scholastic refused. After all, Goosebumps had sprung from nothing to sales of $100 million--10% of Scholastic's annual revenues and more than half of profits. "World War III began that day," a former Scholastic employee recalls. "And it killed the brand."