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A buoyant Bologna Book Fair

7 April 2014

Following on from a buoyant Bologna Book Fair, recent figures show that children's books are doing well on both sides of the Atlantic. Now that the UK and US economies are both coming out of recession, this is probably no longer because parents are prioritising books for their children. Perhaps it might be because they have seen the advantage that having their own books at home gives children.

There is a high demand for middle grade fiction and in YA the trend is towards great realism. It's become apparent how much YA sales are boosted by adult purchase for their own reading. In the US these sales are reported to have amounted to 79% of the YA market between December 2012 and November 2013 - which makes you wonder whether YA should be part of the children's market at all!

In the UK Nielsen BookscanUK bibliographic organisation, describing itself as 'the definitive retail monitoring service for books', which shows UK bestseller lists on its website. Top 5,000 data the children's market is up by just under £1m at this point in the year. New authors and properties and the continuing strength of established authors such as Jeff Kinney and David Williams are driving this.

In the US Publishers WeeklyInternational news website of book publishing and bookselling including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries shows that full-year sales for 2013 may be lower than for 2012, because of the impact of The Hunger Games in boosting the numbers in the earlier year. The three books in Veronica Roth's Divergent dystopian trilogy sold a combined 6.7 million copies last year.

Most children's books are still bought in print editions through traditional stores, with YA being the only area where ebooks are making much impact. Only one in ten digital sales involves a children's book.

World English language rights are being sought by the publishers which have both American and British companies to benefit from them. This is most big trade publishing companies these days, as publishing becomes more global.

Licensing deals are becoming more important. Penguin, which already gets a quarter of its children's profits from licensing deals, has also moved into the film medium itself, spending £10m making an animated Peter Rabbit series, which has already been sold to 15 broadcasters around the world.

Anthony Forbes-Watson, MD of Pan MacmillanOne of largest fiction and non-fiction book publishers in UK; includes imprints of Pan, Picador and Macmillan Children’s Books summed up what Bologna had been like this year:

"The children's market is healthier than ever. There is a mood of confidence accompanied by improving consumer optimism. This is a much noisier, more populous book fair than it has been for several years with an exuberant co-edition market and a stable UK retail market."

So for writers working on books for heh children's market, this is an encouraging picture.

See our link to BookBrunch - A writer at the 2014 Bologna Book Fair