Tuesday, December 15, 2015


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Last Thursday, Book Business hosted the webinar, “Top Trends in Children’s Literature: Personalized and Interactive Books for the Holidays,” which highlighted how interactivity and personalization are reshaping the children’s book segment. Kristen McLean, director of new business development at Nielsen Book; Maia Haag, president of I See Me!; and Barb Pellow, group director at InfoTrends shared their insights on the most profound trends impacting children and young adult titles. Their data revealed that the juvenile book market is one of the fastest changing segments in the industry today as well as one of the most lucrative.
The webinar is free to view and will be on demand for approximately 90 days. Watch it here.
Following are some key takeaways from the discussion:
  1. Print is alive and well in the children’s book space. McLean said that despite the expectation that ebooks would become the prevalent format among young readers, children still love print. “I believe in today’s environment, print and digital will be around together for a really long time,” said McLean. In fact, juvenile nonfiction and juvenile fiction are the only segments in the book industry in which both print and ebook sales have grown. Although most book segments have seen little or no growth over the past few years in terms of sales, the juvenile segment experienced double-digit growth between 2012 and 2014. “Children’s books are holding up the U.S. book market right now,” said McLean
  2. Board books are the fastest growing print product among juvenile titles. Board books — the durable, cardboard-page titles given to children between the ages of 0-3 — have experienced 20% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2013. “I think that is a really significant indicator of parents’ willingness to invest in their children in those early childhood years,” said McLean.
  3. Media tie-ins play a significant role in juvenile book growth. In 2013 only five juvenile titles cracked the top 20 of the bestsellers list, said McLean. In 2014, the majority of titles in that list (16 out of 20) were juvenile titles and all of them had movie or game tie-ins, said McLean. These titles included the popular Divergent series, The Fault in Our Stars, Minecraft books, and Frozen spin-off titles. “What’s going on here is that we’re really seeing the weight of things like games, TV, movies, consumer packaged goods, and licensed brands like Frozen really pushing book sales in a way we’ve never seen before,” said McLean.
  4. Personalization is the trend to watch in 2016. Haag is one of the founders of personalized children’s book publisher I See Me! The 15-year old company tapped into the personalization trend early and has seen remarkable growth in recent years. Purchased by Chronicle Books in May, I See Me! is on track to become a $20-25 million company. One of the reasons personalization is so profitable is that it targets a new audience that is not in the bookstore, explained Haag. Buyers of personalized books are comparing the purchase to other personalized items, like personalized clothing or toys. This also means that these consumers are willing to pay more for a title. I See Me! sells its titles for over $30, said Haag. Additionally, the on demand model mitigates risk by eliminating the need to inventory books. Haag anticipates more book publishers will invest in this model in the near future.
  5. Interactivity needs to be additive to the story. McLean advised publishers who are considering adding greater interactivity to their ebooks or book apps to view the winners of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair’s Ragazzi Awards. “These are some of the most innovative titles in the digital space,” said McLean, adding that they should be the guide for publishers looking to enhance their titles. “Kids don’t just want bells and whistles that don’t integrate into the story. Interactivity has to be in service of the story or the world of that story
Ellen Harvey is the associate/digital editor of Book Business and Publishing Executive. 

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