Unit sales of children's consumer books rose 4% in the first six months of 2002, to 201.1 million books, but spending dipped from $765 million to $762 million, according to Ipsos-NPD's Children's BookTrends report. Ipsos's Barrie Rappaport said the discrepancy between unit and dollar sales was driven by strong sales of inexpensive books, such as coloring and activity books, as well as increased spending at dollar stores. Dollar stores' share of consumer purchases climbed to 15% in the first half of 2002, compared to 11% in the first six months of 2001, as parents continued to buy reading materials for their children while also looking to save money, Rappaport said.

In addition to coloring and activity books, other children's segments that posted big gains were storybooks—especially picture books and sound books—educational workbooks, reference and nonfiction reading books.

In terms of market share, special markets continued as the largest sales channel for children's books, although its 26% share of units sold was down from 31% in the first half of 2001. Special markets is made up of book clubs, book fairs and mail order, and its 26% market share was its lowest share in four years. Bookstores' share of unit sales rose to 17% from 16% last year. All other market channels retained their share of unit sales, including spending through the Internet, which remains at 1% for children's books.