The UK children’s book market grew more than 7% in the first quarter of 2016, according to Nielsen Books.
Kids books are therefore on track to have a “very good year”, especially considering the market grew 5.1% in 2015 from 2014, when sales hit an “all time high”, she said.
Children’s books accounted for 24% of the TCM data (total consumer market) in 2015, compared to only 15% of the total market in 2001, and the two biggest-selling genres in the category last year were children’s fiction and novelty and activity books.
Young adult (YA) saw a decline in 2015 but that was mainly due to the fact that 2014 sales were boosted by Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, said Swope. The YA market is actually diversifying, with debut authors getting more of a look in thanks to prizes, citing Lisa Williamson’s recent win at the 2016 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the best older fiction category for The Art of Being Normal (David Fickling Books), she added.
Customers are also paying more than ever before for children’s books, with the average selling price of a kids title at £5.40 in 2016, boosted by titles such as Egmont’s Blockopedia and Bloomsbury’s illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The big publishers still dominate the market. In fiction, Penguin Random House (PRH) Children’s has 30% of the market, followed by HarperCollins Children’s Books (16.3%). PRH is also the biggest publisher in picture books with 22% of the market, with Macmillan coming in second (13.8%).
However, Andersen Press, Nosy Crow, Bloomsbury and Usborne all saw double digit growth and are “ones to watch”, said Swope.