Some interesting stats, figures and trends in this Publishers Weekly report…
Although middle grade and YA series have frequently topped in-store bestsellers lists for the holidays, sales at indies for the two biggest long-time franchises, Wimpy Kid (Abrams/Amulet) and Harry Potter (Scholastic/Levine), were mixed. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 and 2 was the number one bestseller for 2016 at Brookline Booksmith. At Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Ore., two Harry Potter titles—Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them—and Wimpy Kid #11, Double Down, took three of the top four spots in children’s holiday bestsellers.
But many smaller stores reported softer sales for both the latest Jeff Kinney book and for the Fantastic Beasts screenplay. That was the case at 10-year-old Harleysville Books in Harleysville, Pa., which gets 60% of its sales from children’s books. “This year’s Wimpy Kid was the slowest one we had. In years’ past, I ordered by the case,” said owner Stephanie Steinly, whose customers also had trouble with the format of Fantastic Beasts. By contrast, the two Harry Potter books illustrated by Jim Kay were “successful”—last year’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and October’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
With no single “it” book, a mix of titles did well. At Kids Ink, Julius Lester and Jerry Pinkney’s 2005 picture book The Old African (Dial) was one of Mullin’s big books of the season. She also did particularly well with books by authors who had visited the store. Gingerbread Christmas (Putnam) by Jan Brett, who drew 400 people for an event during the holiday season, was her top seller. Inkwood Books in Tampa, Fla., which is more than half children’s books, had strong sales for picture books over the holidays. Owner Stefani Beddington sold “a ton” of The Story Book Knight (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky). She noted that it is written by the same authors, Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, as The Snatchabook (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), which continues to do well.
The bestselling kids’ book at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss., was also a picture book by an author who visited the store—twice: William Joyce’s Ollie’s Odyssey (S&S/Atheneum/Dlouhy). “We had some amazing turnouts for our children’s events,” said Clara Martin, children’s buyer for the children’s section, which is known as OZ. Other top sellers included the Fan Brothers’ picture book The Night Gardener (Simon & Schuster), which was a pick for the OZ First Editions Club, and two middle-grade novels: Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Secret Keepers (Little, Brown, and Kate Beasley’s middle-grade novel Gertie’s Leap to Greatness (FSG).
Andrea Beaty and David Roberts’s picture book Ada Twist, Scientist (Abrams) appeared on a number of in-store bestsellers lists, including Skylight in Los Angeles, where manager Steven Salardino reported that it was the fourth biggest-selling children’s title. Jon Klassen’s We Found a Hat (Candlewick) was an “expected” hit, said Salardino, who called Klassen’s hat trilogy “amazing.”