Big children's brands push up 2012 sales

Big children's brands push up 2012 sales

The value of the children’s physical books market last year was marginally up on 2011, according to Nielsen BookScan figures.  

HarperCollins enjoyed its most successful year since 2008, usurping Hachette to become the second most valuable children’s publisher.

Overall the children’s sector, in terms of physical book sales through BookScan’s Total Consumer Market, was up 0.02% in value terms, to £318.5m, and up 0.9% in terms of volume sales, to 61.3 million. The paperback market was slightly up, growing 1.53% by value and 2.21% by volume to £213.4m and 43 million sales, though hardback sales dropped by 2.9% and 2.1% respectively.

Young Adult (YA), and novelty and activity books, were the two most healthy sectors, with sales of YA books reaching £36.1m, a 10.6% increase on 2011, boosted by sales of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (Scholastic), which were worth £12.1m, an increase on 2011 of 864.3%. If sales of Collins’ titles were stripped from the stats, the children’s market overall would have been down by 3.3%.

Collins was the biggest children’s brand name in 2012, with Julia Donaldson worth £11.6m through Nielsen BookScan last year, and Jeff Kinney (Penguin Children’s) worth £9.8m. HarperCollins’ David Walliams sales were up 97.6% on 2011, and were worth £6.1m through Nielsen BookScan last year. Beatrix Potter sales were up by 15.7% to £1.5m, and Enid Blyton grew by 13.1% to £2.9m. However, sales across the Eric Carle brand dropped by 27.6%, to £1.5m, and Francesca Simon sales were down by 23%, to £2.1m.

Novelty and activity books, meanwhile, grew by 7.4% or £2.9m on last year, to £43.4m.
Of the top 10 children’s publishers, only two grew sales in 2012 compared to 2011, with Scholastic up to £23.3m, representing growth of 85.1%, boosted by the Hunger Games phenomenon.

HarperCollins saw growth of 9.5% on 2011, to £30.6m, and m.d. Ann-Janine Murtagh stressed the value in backing authors over the long term, and of the increasing importance of creating live events to feed children’s enthusiasm for an author.

Pan Macmillan Children’s m.d. Belinda Rasmussen said sales of e-books for the publisher, not included in the Nielsen figures, more than doubled in 2012, and in some instances sales were nearly half e-book driven, with YA titles particularly strong. At HarperCollins Children’s Books, Michael Morpurgo’s e-books sales increased by 438% by volume during Christmas week, compared to the average week’s sales in the previous six months, with HCCB’s e-book sales increasing 309% in volume terms in Christmas week, again compared to the average sales per week across the six-month period.

Publishers agreed that 2012 had reinforced the importance of brands, and of being focused on a property across different formats and media incarnations to ensure sales. Scholastic m.d. Hilary Murray-Hill said: “It is about keeping the focus on big brands and on customers.”  

Penguin Children’s m.d. Francesca Dow said: “It is becoming more and more apparent that all top brands have another way of connecting with consumers, beyond the book, which takes the property to a wider audience. The big message for this year is understanding the consumer.”

Publisher 2012 sales Growth vs 2011
Penguin £61.0m -1.69%
HarperCollins £30.6m +9.47%
Hachette £28.0m -16.72%
Scholastic £23.3m +85.90%
Random House £18.9m -4.12%
Usborne £18.7m -0.73%
Pan Macmillan £17.8m -8.45%
Egmont £17.5m -11.26%
Walker £8.8m -1.66%
Parragon £7.4m -10.78%