Need proof that media tie-ins drive children’s fiction sales full-throttle? New data to be released at the Nielsen Children’s Book Summit next week will offer ample supporting evidence of this at one of numerous sessions during the daylong conference at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium in Manhattan. A co-production of global consumer information provider Nielsen and Miami-based publishing specialists Bookigee, the summit aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the children’s book landscape for publishers, marketers and content developers looking to understand consumer behavior.
The event, to be held on December 12, will feature presentations from Nielsen researchers and child development specialists, as well as live focus groups with families and teens. Presenters will share insights on how to create compelling content, how to use technology to reach consumers, and how to leverage other forms of entertainment to extend book brands and deepen children’s engagement.
PW received an early glimpse of some of the statistics that Nielsen presenters will disclose during the summit session, focusing on the power of film adaptations to catapult YA novels onto bestseller lists – and keep them there for quite some time. Here are some highlights:
● Every YA novel on a Bookscan-sourced list of the 20 top children’s bestsellers from the fourth quarter of 2011 through the third quarter of 2014 (topped by Veronica Roth’s Divergent and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars) was backed by a media tie-in.
● Film adaptation of YA novels boost sales of the entire series they fall under: sales figures for Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and Roth’s Divergent books all skyrocketed by triple-digit percentages after the release of the movie based on the series’ inaugural installment. In the most dramatic example, sales of the debut novel in Meyers’s series increased by 649% from 2007 to 2008, the year the Twilight film was released.
● Among moviegoers ages 18–35, YA novel adaptations tie (at 43%) with fantasy and action-thriller films as their favorite genre, trailing comedy (at 55%) and action adventure (at 47%), but beating out science fiction (at 40%) and romantic comedy (at 39%).
● Even backlist titles can benefit from a movie spinoff, as witnessed by Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, first published in 1999, which got a monumental sales bump courtesy of its movie spinoff. Released in October 2012, the film boosted annual sales from 88,847 copies in 2011 to 425,933 in 2012, and the book has performed consistently well since then.
The YA Adaptation Fanship study was conducted by Nielsen Content, which provides customized research solutions for film, television and digital clients. It involved two focus groups of YA adaptation fans, whose insights helped build the quantitative phase of the research, a 20-minute online survey of 2,000 YA adaptation moviegoers (70% female and 30% male) between the ages of 12–35. One of the research team’s endeavors was identifying four “fanship” segments within YA adaptation fandom, ranging from casual to ardent followers of the genre, to better target the interests of each group.
Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee and co-chair of the Nielsen Children’s Book Summit, praised what she called the “groundbreaking” aspects of the study, and the insight it provides into the levels of YA adaptations’ fanship. “This research has several threads, the first being the impact of movie adaptations on the book marketplace,” she said. “Children’s book bestseller lists are being transformed by that impact. Nielsen Content has divided the fans of this content into nuanced segments that illuminate how they are finding and sharing this content, to what extent the book readership relates to the movie fanship, and what promotional initiatives motivate each group.”
The summit’s programming will further explore this and other spheres of media intersection, explained Jonathan Stolper, senior v-p, Nielsen Book. “It is increasingly clear to us and our customers that children’s media consumption is completely omnivorous,” he said. “If we want to understand the key trends affecting our business, we need to take a much broader approach and look at all the ways children’s media intersect. We’re very excited about this new initiative.”
Julanne Schiffer, senior v-p of Nielsen Entertainment, emphasized that, though the summit agenda puts young readers “at the center of the universe,” its goal is to “examine the book market and to understand that readership in view of what else they are spending their leisure time on. We want to explore how trends in the gaming, video, film, and mobile device spaces are interacting and impacting one another. Our goal is to uncover precise ways publishers can grow their reading audiences and extend the value of their brands into other spaces.”
Stolper noted that he and his colleagues anticipate that the Nielsen Children’s Book Summit will become an annual event.