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Children's print book sales booming

27 April 2015

Recent figures from Nielsen BookscanUK bibliographic organisation, describing itself as 'the definitive retail monitoring service for books', which shows UK bestseller lists on its website. show that children's print books are doing well in eleven out of the twelve countries the research tracks, the exception being India. That means there's a real boom going on in children's books, heartening news for children's writers.

In the US print book sales rose by 2% in the last two years, but children's was the driver with an amazing 13% growth. In the UK overall print figures declined by 2% but children's sales rose by 8%. Countries with growing numbers of children did well, in China total unit sales of print books were up by 3%, but for children's print books it was 10%. Brazil, with its heavy emphasis on education, had very rapid growth in children's print book sales in the second half of 2014, with sales up 28% compared with the same six months the previous year.

These figures don't include ebooks, but in just two years the mean age when American children started reading on tablets dropped from 7 to 5, so there is growing e-reading too. Print is widely preferred though and parents appear to think that print books work better as an educational tool - they may be right, as there is some research which suggests that it may be easier to absorb information from print rather than ebooks. Parents in mature economies are investing in their children's literacy through the purchase of print books.

Young Adult also has been doing very well. In the US it's now known that 73% of children's books, probably including a lot of YA, are bought by adults for themselves. According to some focus groups Nielsen Bookscan carried out with 14-17 year-olds, the teenagers themselves prefer print books for reading for pleasure and digital for school work.

This is very encouraging if you're a children's writer and there's definitely a search for talent going on. Unfortunately this doesn't necessarily make it any easier to find a publisher for your children's book, as publishers for younger readers tend to have an unusually fixed idea of what they're looking for. It's always going to be fresh ideas though, good characters, skilful plotting and an ability to get your story right for the age group you're writing for.

Suzy Jenvey's The Essential Guide to Writing for Children

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