Scholastic’s trade group has been on a hot streak for over a year, and that performance is reflected in the publisher’s dominance of PW’s children’s fiction bestseller list in 2020. The company had 53 books that made the frontlist fiction chart last year, up from 43 in 2019. Those titles also averaged longer stays on the chart, occupying 574 bestseller list positions. There are 25 titles on each of PW’s weekly children’s lists, for a total of 1,300 positions on each list over the course of a year—meaning that Scholastic had 44.1% of the frontlist fiction bestseller positions, up from 28.8% a year ago.
Scholastic author Dav Pilkey’s Fetch-22 (Dog Man #8) was on our frontlist fiction chart every week in 2020, and Scholastic published six of the top 10 titles with the longest runs on last year’s bestseller list. Another title in Pilkey’s Dog Man series, For Whom the Ball Rolls, spent 34 weeks on the list.
Pilkey is a mainstay of PW’s annual review of the children’s fiction bestseller lists, but Scott Cawthon, while a bestselling author, has not always finished high in our year-end tallies. In 2020, though, he had two books in his Five Nights at Freddy’s series with long frontlist fiction chart runs: The Silver Eyes was on the list for 44 weeks, and Into the Pit had a 33-week run. Other Scholastic top sellers were the 10th volume in Aaron Blabey’s Bad Guys series, The Bad Guys in the Baddest Day Ever, which had a 35-week stay, as did J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, illustrated by Jim Kay.
Scholastic’s tremendous 2020 showing on the children’s frontlist fiction chart meant down years for most other publishers. Simon & Schuster took the biggest hit in 2020, falling from second place on the ranking in 2019 to fifth place. In 2019, S&S’s bestseller performance benefitted from the release of the movie Five Feet Apart; the original Five Feet Apart novel by Rachael Lippincott was on our list for 35 weeks, and the tie-in edition had a 28-week run.
HarperCollins slipped into second place on the children’s frontlist fiction bestsellers by corporation ranking, with a 10.5% share of chart positions. HC had two titles with long frontlist fiction bestseller runs last year: The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate hit the list for 33 weeks, and FGTeeV Presents: Into the Game!, published by HarperAlley, stayed on the list for 32 weeks.
The Hachette Book Group climbed in the ranking, adding one more title than in 2019, and its titles stayed on the lists for longer periods.
For the second year in a row, Penguin Random House saw its share of positions on the children’s frontlist fiction bestseller chart decline. In 2018, PRH had a 15.7% share, a total that dropped to 13% in 2019 and to 8% last year. The decline in 2020 was due to nine fewer titles reaching the list than did in 2019. Macmillan also lost significant share last year. The 13 Macmillan books that hit the list (down from 20 in 2019) had short stays there.
Abrams had a slight increase in its share of frontlist fiction bestseller chart positions, as its titles had longer runs on the chart, even though it had one fewer title make the chart than in 2019.
Granity Studios, founded by the late Kobe Bryant, had six books reach the children’s frontlist fiction chart last year, but the books did not stay long enough to reach occupy 2% of the chart positions—the threshold required to reach the corporations ranking.
PRH easily extended its reign over PW’s picture book bestsellers by corporation ranking. The company had 86 titles hit the picture book list, up from 81 in 2019, though its share of total list positions slipped slightly. PRH’s Philomel imprint was the only publisher to have a title (The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle ) stay on the chart for the entire year.
Only two books with long runs on the picture book list were new in 2020. FSG’s If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by David Walker, was on the chart for 49 weeks, helping to improve parent company Macmillan’s share of positions on the list to 11.7%, from 8.8% in 2019.
I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth, illustrated by Tim Warnes, was another 2020 newcomer to the picture book list, staying on the chart for 37 weeks—good enough to give publisher Tiger Tales a 2.8% share of picture book bestseller slots.
Firefly also made the picture books bestsellers by corporation ranking on the strength of one big hit: its perennially popular Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.
In contrast to Tiger Tales and Firefly, Sourcebooks and Disney had multiple books hit the picture book bestseller list, but only for a few weeks each.