Children are reading in record numbers in the last decade, which has propelled billion dollar properties such as Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight, Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not only have these titles done staggering well but it has promoted the success of books with similar subjects and themes and are benefiting from each other’s successes. Over the course of the last two years John Green and Veronica Roth are the highest-selling authors; juvenile fiction is performing so amazingly that 17 of the 20 overall bestsellers in the US during 2014 were books for children.
Nielsen hosted the first annual Children’s Book Summit in Manhattan and produced research for over a four year period. They produced research that the children’s book market has increased 44% in the last decade and 67% of teens read for pleasure. Ironically, although tablet adoption has increased exponentially, 50% still prefer print books over eBooks.
Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee provided some interesting information on where books are being purchased. 62% of the purchases are taking place at physical bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble. Juvenile represents 35% of the total physical market over the last 12 months with juvenile fiction largely driving the sales from 2011 to 2014, resulting in “a great variety of publishers seeing positive growth.” Games and activity books as well as crossover products, representing “blockbuster brands bleeding over to nonfiction,” such as Minecraft and Lego, are also raising “very interesting implications.” MacLean suggested that this trend “leads to the rise of lifestyle books in juvenile nonfiction, and popularity of shows like MasterChef Junior.” One surprising find from a study about demographic buying habits showed that 42% of people who purchase children’s nonfiction titles actually have no children: 15% of these buyers purchased the books as gifts, and 27% of them reported buying the books for themselves.
The success of children’s and juvenile fiction has helped Scholastic continue to generate solid revenue. The company reported second quarter 2015 earnings were $665.6 million, compared to $623.2 million a year ago, an increase of 7%. Scholastic affirmed its fiscal 2015 outlook will account for approximately $1.9 billion.
The most exciting trend that this conference produce was there is a strong misconception that youth and young adults spend the majority of their time online, visiting sites such as Facebook and Twitter and not reading. What Nielson found is that they are establishing strong bonds with their friends, which leads to book recommendations being taken very seriously. This has led to a population explosion with Goodreads. Recently, the website reported a record 3.3 million votes cast in the 6th annual Goodreads Choice Award.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.