Scholastic and Penguin Random House retained their #1 spots in our rankings of children’s frontlist fiction and picture book bestsellers by corporation, respectively, though each company’s share of positions on its list diminished slightly from 2018.
There are 25 bestseller positions on each of PW’s weekly lists, for a total of 1,300 positions on each list in the course of a year. With 43 titles occupying 375 frontlist fiction bestseller slots in 2019, or 28.8% of the total, Scholastic easily topped Simon & Schuster, which took over second place from PRH with a 15.9% share.
Scholastic’s strength in frontlist fiction came from a combination of the number of titles it placed on the list plus the length of time those books spent on the list. Dav Pilkey’s Brawl of the Wild (Dog Man #6) was on the list for all of 2019, while Pilkey’s fifth Dog Man volume, Lord of the Fleas, stayed on the list for 35 weeks. Pilkey scored another long-running bestseller with Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2, which stayed on the chart for 29 weeks. Pilkey wasn’t the only Scholastic author to enjoy a long run on the frontlist fiction list; the graphic novel The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland stayed on the list for 23 weeks.
Another title that remained on the list for 23 weeks was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, one of a number of books that boosted S&S’s share of frontlist fiction bestseller slots to 15.9% last year, from 11.5% in 2018. The big driver in increasing S&S’s share was Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, which had two editions on the list: the regular edition was on the list for 35 weeks, while the movie tie-in was on the list for 28 weeks. Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday, Rachel Renée Russell’s 13th Dork Diaries book, was another S&S title that stayed on the list for 35 weeks.
The lengths of stay enjoyed by S&S’s titles helped to offset PRH’s edge in terms of number of titles on the frontlist fiction list. In fact, PRH had 39 titles on the frontlist fiction list last year, one more than it had in 2018, but its share of bestseller spots fell from 204 in 2018 to 169. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was the only PRH title among the top 11 longest-running frontlist fiction bestsellers last year.
Disney Book Group fell from fifth place to eighth in the 2019 ranking of frontlist fiction bestsellers by corporation, as its share of positions on that list fell to 6.2%, from 8.9% in 2018. The number of books that hit the list fell from 26 to 19.
Abrams, meanwhile, saw its share of frontlist fiction bestsellers jump from 4.3% in 2018 to 7% in 2019, as the number of its titles that reached the list rose from four to nine. Jeff Kinney led Abrams’s surge with The Meltdown, 13th in his Wimpy Kid series, which stayed on the list for 40 weeks, while his Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid stayed on the list for 37 weeks.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt returned to the fiction frontlist ranking, just squeaking over the 2% position-share minimum by placing five books on the chart for 27 weeks.
On the picture book bestsellers by corporation ranking, PRH held nearly a 20-percentage-point lead over second-place HarperCollins. PRH’s dominance of the picture book list was led by perennial bestsellers The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (48 weeks) and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (38 weeks), as well as by Emily Winfield Martin’s The Wonderful Things You Will Be, a newcomer to the long-running chart that stayed on the bestseller list for 36 weeks.
Scholastic moved into third place on the picture book bestseller ranking, leapfrogging over Macmillan. Scholastic’s rise was aided by The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley, which spent all of 2019 on PW’s picture book bestseller list. Another strong performer for the company was Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, which was on the chart for 35 weeks.
Both Sourcebooks and Candlewick, which were on the picture book bestsellers by corporation ranking in 2018, just missed reaching the qualifying 2% position-share minimum to qualify in 2019; Candlewick had three books and a 1.9% share of picture book positions, and Sourcebooks had eight picture book bestsellers and a 1.8% share.
*These figures represent each publisher’s share of the 1,300 bestseller positions on the list in question during the year indicated (there are 25 positions on each weekly list). To qualify for the ranking, a publisher must have at least 2% of all positions for the year.
LONGEST-RUNNING CHILDREN’S BESTSELLERS OF 2019
Stay tuned for our compilation of 2019 children’s bestsellers by category, next month.