A time for age-ranging

<p>Age ranging children's books &ndash; where an indication of reading or interest age is included on the cover of a title &ndash; is one of those issues that has resurfaced periodically for longer than most in the industry care to reflect. In a world well populated by specialist children's booksellers and librarians, age ranging books just didn't seem to have a place.</p>
<p>But the children's book world has changed considerably over the last ten years and books themselves have to work harder, and more quickly, to end up in the right hands. The chains generally offer a wonderful selection of titles but while these may be on age-ranged shelves, consumers can still find this choice overwhelming. It is even harder in non-traditional outlets where the POS support is minimal. A small paragraph in a BML report, Growing the Market (2005), was emphatic - consumers needed more help.</p>
<p>Finally, the industry (which is often reluctant to invest in research) decided that the time was right to explore this in more detail and undertook a series of research programmes with retailers, adults and children.</p>
<p>This threw up a few surprises, many positive. For example, adults really do like buying books for children &ndash; they want to buy books much more than they want to buy DVDs or computer games for their nieces, nephews, grand children etc. They also like remembering the books they enjoyed as a child. But, more than anything, the research showed how much they struggled to buy books for children. More surprising was the level of support that booksellers on the shop floor gave to age ranging children's titles &ndash; they needed more guidance to sell books, too.</p>
<p>While there are still many opinions against age ranging children's books, the research is simply overwhelmingly in favour of including age guidance on children's titles. The debate will need to continue, to explore the best way of implementing that guidance. <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/in-depth/feature/49085-age-ranging-a-step-c... what cannot be in doubt at this stage is that age ranging will happen.</a></p>
<p>Hopefully, there will be additional research further down the line to refine the system chosen and to ensure it was implemented in the best possible way, as well as indicating, once and for all, whether or not age ranging really does help to sell more children's books.</p>