Throughout the recent economic downturn, the children’s book industry proved largely insulated from the declines that afflicted the other trade segments, thanks to a mix of blockbuster series and the popularity of all things vampiric and dystopian. The ascension of e-books has also had less impact on children’s publishing, but that is beginning to change.
According to Bowker Market Research data (see graphs below), e-books accounted for well over one-quarter of all sales in many adult trade segments and about 5% of children’s sales in the third quarter of 2011—the most recent quarter for which data is available. The overall impact on children’s sales, though less dramatic than that on adult trade, is nonetheless significant and will surely rise. One reason e-books are growing in the children’s segment is the growing popularity of digital devices among young readers (see our feature); the YA category combined with other fiction titles to account for 42% of all unit sales in the children’s market in the third quarter. Picture books, which are just starting to find their way into digital formats thanks to the color capabilities of new tablet devices, was the second-largest children’s segment, accounting for 17% of units sold.
With e-books representing a relatively small portion of children’s book sales, bookstore chains still held a comfortable edge over e-commerce sites as the largest channel for children’s sales in the third quarter. That will change going forward, however, as e-book sales increase and the absence of Borders starts to be reflected in the data. Borders, which closed the last of its stores in September, accounted for 13% of unit sales in the third quarter. In the e-commerce channel, Amazon represented 15% of units sold, with the remaining 5% sold through BN.com and other sites.
It is both inevitable and welcome that the children’s market partakes of the digital explosion. Read on for a deeper portrait of the current kids’ scene, with the aforesaid article on teen e-book use, a look at the evolving role of sales reps, and an interview with rising picture book star Jon Klassen. And of course, we present our comprehensive guide to the spring season, listed below, and our sneak preview of fall 2012 titles. Happy reading!
The listings are divided alphabetically into six parts by publisher name. Click the links below to view each set of listings:A-C