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Children's publishers back call to sell more hardbacks
01.07.09 | Caroline Horn
Children's publishers have backed a call made by Andersen Press m.d. Klaus Flugge to make more hardback picture books available in the high street. Writing to The Bookseller last month Flugge argued that a bigger high street presence would help boost hardback picture book sales.
Fiona Macmillan, colour publisher at Random House Children's Books, agreed. She said: "It's become progressively harder to place hardbacks in the trade but where they have been sold, we have been pleased with the results." Simon & Schuster publishes picture books simultaneously into hardback and paperback and its marketing director Elisa Offord said: "We would love to do more picture books in hardback if there were a market for them. People still think that a hardback picture book is a great gift and if there were more hardbacks in shops, they would probably sell more."
Hardback picture books can still sell well through independents said Walker Books publishing director Jane Winterbotham. Walker sales director Jane Harris put the UK print runs of key hardbacks at around 10,000.
The library market also remains strong for hardback picture books said Moira Arthur, former m.d. of Peters Bookselling Services. She added: "We can easily sell 1,000 hardback copies of a solid picture book." Hodder editorial director Anne McNeil said: "Attempting to crack [the picture book market] in one hit is not always successful, and a warm-up hardback gives us the chance to garner reviews and ammunition from readers before going out with the paperback."
Flugge's letter followed The Bookseller's preview of picture books, published 12th June, which highlighted only three hardbacks among the books published between July 2009 and June 2010. Previewer Kate Skipper, children’s 0–5 buyer at Waterstone’s, wrote that only three hardback picture book flats had sold more than 1,000 copies in the Total Consumer Market last December. She added: "Many publishers still do not seem to be tempering their hardback output in response to the decimation of trade sales. I was utterly flummoxed to receive significantly more hardback submissions for this feature than paperbacks, however, I have been necessarily draconian with my selection."
But Flugge countered: "To include only three hardbacks among the books published between July 2009 and June 2010 may be the policy of Waterstone's but, I dare say, does not present a true picture of the many important picture books that will be published during the next 12 months."