And jukebox-like, the melodies played on and on. There's a hacky sack book, The Klutz Book of Magic, The Klutz Yo-Yo Book, and a book on face painting. With 20 to 30 titles a year, the line has swelled to more than 150 books and products. In 2000, Cassidy and his cofounders sold Klutz for $73 million, and the company is now a subsidiary of Scholastic.

First Real Hit Though it all started with Juggling for the Complete Klutz, the biggest seller to date has been Cat's Cradle, colored string included, which illustrates how to fashion such ­finger-strung string figures as the Eiffel Tower and a 20-step Jacob's Ladder. Cat's Cradle has sold three million copies since 1993.

Reasons for Success "I like to think the reason we're still around is that the products we create still meet very high standards in terms of play value and durability and content," says Cassidy, who is now the creative head of Klutz. "And even after all these years, we still like to be funny - and make sure the wit and humor are in service of clear instruction. I don't think that particular business model will ever go out of favor."

Latest Offering The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes is another example of Klutz cleverly taking ownership of a common, public-domain pursuit. Folding diagrams and helpful photos teach readers to perfect 10 models, including the Nakamura Lock, Spy Plane, and Flying Ninja, using the high-quality paper provided. As it states on the back cover: "Bland paper never had it so good."


"Be passionate about your ideas and never forget what's important in life. I attribute Baby Einstein's success to my passion for the subjects featured in the videos and books."
- Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein Company