In compiling PW’s first-ever ranking of publishers based on the number of titles they had on our two children’s bestseller lists in 2014, there wasn’t much mystery about which company would top the lists: Penguin Random House held a clear lead in both the frontlist fiction and picture books categories. The real question was which house would come in second on each list, and how much of a lead PRH would have.
It turns out that PRH was most dominant in the picture books category, while facing stiffer competition in frontlist fiction. The various divisions and imprints of PRH placed an impressive 56 titles on the picture books bestseller list in 2014. The list ranks the top 25 picture books each week and appears 52 times per year, yielding a total of 1,300 bestseller slots in 2014. Together, PRH’s 56 bestselling picture books held a total of 539 positions on the lists, meaning that the company controlled 41.5% of the available real estate.
PRH’s closest competitor in the category last year was HarperCollins, which placed 28 picture books on the list, accounting for 181 weekly slots, or a 13.9% share. In all, 166 titles spent at least one week on the picture books bestseller lists last year.
Within the PRH group, the Random House division had the most picture book bestsellers, placing 31 titles on the weekly charts, led by its Dr. Seuss franchise, which had 22 books on the list. At Harper, the HarperCollins imprint had 11 picture books on the bestsellers lists, while HarperFestival had 10. Macmillan was the only other publisher with a total of more than 100 weekly appearances on the picture books chart in 2014. Its 12 bestsellers held 123 slots on the list, or 9.5% of the bestseller territory.
The total number of titles that hit the children’s frontlist fiction chart last year was 167, only one more than the number of titles on the picture books chart. Simon & Schuster came in second to PRH in terms of kids’ fiction bestsellers. PRH had 34 titles on the fiction list in 2014, occupying 322 slots, or 24.8% of the weekly bestseller positions. S&S had only 19 titles on the fiction chart last year, but six of its books stayed on the list for 10 weeks or more. Its Aladdin imprint had six titles land on the fiction chart, while S&S’s McElderry imprint had four fiction bestsellers.
Harper had 28 titles on the children’s frontlist fiction list in 2014—more titles than S&S, and almost as many as PRH—but its books held a total of only 168 weekly slots, compared to 173 for S&S. Scholastic also had a strong showing on the fiction charts last year, with 25 titles occupying a total of 148 positions.
Unlike the adult bestseller lists, where there is a fair amount of turnover, children’s bestsellers sometimes stay on their respective charts for weeks. That is particularly true on the picture book list (which incorporates both backlist and frontlist titles), where five top-selling titles each managed to appear for 48 of the year’s 52 weeks. Macmillan was able to hold 123 positions on the picture book list in 2014, despite having only 12 bestsellers. Its Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, was one of the five books that had a 48-week run last year, while On the Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman, stayed on the chart for 40 weeks.
Hard Luck, the eighth book in Jeff Kinney’s bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, published by Abrams, had a 48-week run on the children’s frontlist fiction chart last year, making it the longest-running bestseller in the category in 2014. S&S had six titles with double-digit stays on that list; with a 30-week run, Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star, the seventh installment in Rachel Renée Russell’s Dork Diaries series, had the most longevity among the S&S kids’ fiction titles. Two books from Threshold had long runs on the list last year for S&S as well: Rush Revere and the First Patriots and Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, both by Rush Limbaugh, appeared for 27 and 23 weeks, respectively.
The children’s frontlist fiction chart had one thing in common with the adult bestseller lists in 2014: the prevalence of movie tie-ins. Mockingjay, The Fault in Our Stars, The Book Thief, and Divergent all had long runs on the kids’ fiction chart, thanks, in part, to film adaptations released last year. A fifth bestselling title, Frozen: Junior Novelization, was adapted from the megapopular Frozen movie.
The Best of the Rest
Our 2014 children’s bestseller rankings are based on our weekly picture book and frontlist fiction bestseller charts, but we don’t want to shortchange books that sold well last year in a couple of other important areas. Minecraft titles had a great year in 2014. Five Minecraft books, all published by Scholastic, were among the year’s top 10 bestselling children’s nonfiction books. And one of the biggest surprises was Fleming Revell’s Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids, which finished in sixth place in the nonfiction category.
Among the six authors who wrote the top 10 bestselling children’s backlist fiction titles in 2014 were four with books on the top 10 frontlist chart: Veronica Roth, John Green, James Dasher, and Ransom Riggs. The hardcover edition of Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was the #3 backlist novel last year, while the trade paperback and the movie tie-in editions of the title both had long runs on the frontlist fiction chart.
Children's Bestsellers By Corporation
|Penguin Random House||34||322||24.8%|
|Simon & Schuster||19||173||13.3%|
|Hachette Book Group||19||121||9.3%|
|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||5||46||3.5%|
|Penguin Random House||56||539||41.5%|
|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||7||97||7.5%|
|Simon & Schuster||13||96||7.4%|
|Hachette Book Group||4||15||1.1%|
PW’s 2014 Longest-running Children’s Bestsellers
(# of weeks on 2014 top 25 list)
|48||Hard Luck |
(Diary of a Wimpy Kid #8)
|40||Frozen: Junior Novelization |
|38||The Fault in Our Stars (trade paper) |
|37||Mockingjay (movie tie-in) |
|36||The Kill Order |
|36||The Fault in Our Stars (movie tie-in) |
|34||The Book Thief (movie tie-in) |
|33||House of Hades |
(Heroes of Olympus #4)
|30||Divergent (movie tie-in) |
|30||Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star |
(Dork Diaries #7)
Rachel Renée Russell
|30||Hollow City |
(# of weeks on 2014 top 25 list)
|48||Goodnight Moon |
|48||Brown Bear, Brown Bear, |
What Do You See?
|48||Little Blue Truck |
|48||The Day the Crayons Quit |
|48||The Very Hungry Caterpillar |
|41||Green Eggs and Ham |
|40||On the Night You Were Born |
Feiwel and Friends
|39||Guess How Much I Love You |
|35||One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, |
|33||Dr. Seuss’s ABC |
Top 10 Kids' Bestsellers, 2014
|Minecraft: Redstone Handbook |
|Minecraft: Essential Handbook |
|The Fault in Our Stars |
|Minecraft: Combat Handbook |
|If I Stay |
|Minecraft: Construction Handbook |
|Looking for Alaska |
|Frozen: Ultimate Sticker Book |
|The Maze Runner |
|Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids |
Fleming H. Revell
|Paper Towns |
|The Lego Movie: Ultimate Sticker Collection |
|Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children |
|The Wimpy Kid |
|Minecraft: The Complete Handbook |
|The Scorch Trials |
|Where the Sidewalk Ends |