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Children's books still booming

12 January 2009

Children's books are still doing well in spite of the recession. In the UK Christmas sales were up by 8.5% (£4 million - $6 million) on the previous year. The publication of J K Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard contributed handsomely to this, but sales of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series (see News Review 18 August 2008) made a major contribution to book sales across the world and continued the focus on successful teenage fiction.

Prospects for the children's book market may be rosier than those for books for adults. Francesca Dow, MD of Puffin in the UK, says: 'Children's books may be hit less hard than adult books because parents will still spend on their children.' It is still going to be difficult though for publishers to find the marketing spend for kids' books in a year when budgets will be tight. Gillian Laskier, Group Sales Director for Egmont, said: 'Retailers will focus more on a smaller range of bestsellers - not just the frontlist books but the cream of the frontlist.'

Outside the arena of big publishing, there are clear signs that self-publishing may offer a particularly effective starting-point for children's authors. Christopher Paolini's Eragon (see News Review 1 December 2008) is a notable case of this, but a recent article in the US Publishers' Weekly detailed a number of other successful children's authors who had followed this route.

An interesting trend in the UK market has been the impact of high-profile publicly funded campaigns to promote books and reading. The current Children's Laureate, Michael Rosen, has like his predecessors done a terrific job in promoting children's books, with in his case a special focus on picture books and children's poetry. The recent Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition, for which he was Chair of the Judges, tapped a vein of 7-11 year-old creativity across the world - for a cheering indication of what the children themselves can do just look at the wining poems on the Children's Poetry Bookshelf

Run by the Poetry Book Society, this website has a lively child-friendly section with poetry puzzles and quizzes, and the kids' own poems and poetry book reviews. The CPB is the only children's poetry book club in the world and serves a 7-11 age range with memberships for parents, grandparents, teachers, school libraries and public libraries around the world.


The Big Picture campaign in 2007 drew attention to picture books and there has indeed been an improvement in this area, with a cautious number of new books and new authors being published. Booktrust's many publicly-funded book-gifting schemes have proved that giving books to young children d can make a big difference to their reading and their education in general.

The biggest promotion of the year in the UK has been the National Year of Reading. Amongst its many successes it has persuaded nearly two million people, many of them children, to join their local library. The campaign, which has been distinguished by a lively, ever-changing website and year-long parade of imaginative monthly promotions, is a model of its kind. It is reckoned to be such a success that it is going to morph into an ongoing promotion, Reading for Life.

Publishers' Weekly on children's self-publishing

WritersPrintShop - our self-publishing service

The UK Children's Laureate

Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition

Children's Poetry Bookshelf


National Year of Reading

Reading for Life