Sales of Halloween-themed children’s books increased by more than 65% in the fortnight ending 11th October, as booksellers across the UK gear up for one of their busiest Halloweens yet.
A search of terms such as “vampires”, “witches” and “ghosts” in the Nielsen BookScan TCM 5,000 revealed that sales of Halloween-themed titles between 28th September and 11th October totalled £235,696, 66% up on the previous fortnight’s figure (£142,139). Volume sales of Halloween-themed titles were up by 67% in the time period, to 46,739 copies (from 27,944 units).
Melissa Cox, children’s book buyer at Waterstones, is expecting Halloween to be “bigger than ever” this year. She pointed out that the holiday conveniently falls in the half-term holiday but added: “Publishers have become very savvy about getting the right books in for the sorts of seasonal events that children love, and Halloween is a prime example of that.”
Natasha Radford, owner of Chicken & Frog Bookshop in Essex, said Halloween was now as important as Christmas for custom, and said there was an increased interest in “spooky books” from September. “We find parents in our area often buy a little Halloween present of a book and some sweets for their children,” she said.
Many booksellers are promoting new scary books through storytime sessions or window displays. Dulwich Books in south London is hosting a display by Walker Books based on Seen and Not Heard by Katie May Green, while the Jacqson Diego Story Emporium in Westcliff is basing its storytime activities around Tracy Corderoy’s Hubble Bubble: The Super-Spooky Fright Night (Nosy Crow).
Cox said Waterstones would be promoting Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl and Toby Ibbotson’s Mountwood School for Ghosts (both Macmillan Children’s Books), but said classic backlist titles—such as Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch and Allan Ahlberg’s Funnybones—would probably benefit from sales boosts as Halloween approaches.
Dulwich Books owner Sheila O’Reilly said The Haunted House, written by Jan Pieńkowski and first published in 1979, was another book that would “sell and sell”.
However, Halloween is not an important date in the calendar for all bookshops. Jo de Guia of Victoria Park Books in east London, said: “We celebrate Halloween in the community so we don’t bother so much in the shop. We did when we first opened, but we find people don’t buy books at Halloween.”
Autumn is a busy time of year for Victoria Park Books, but most of the increased business is because of the lead-up to Christmas, de Guia said.