Children's 2016 print book market up 11.7% to date

Children's 2016 print book market up 11.7% to date

The children's print book market is on course for an 11.7% increase to a full year value of £394m this year if sales continue at the same pace - making 2016 the biggest year for children's books for the third year in a row.

The Bookseller’s charts editor Kiera O’Brien delivered the sales data derived from Nielsen BookScan yesterday (27th September) at The Bookseller Children’s Conference in London, whilst also revealing that J K Rowling is on course to become the bestselling author of 2016.

Children's print sales for 2016 are looking very positive so far, O'Brien said, totaling £209m for the 2016 year to date (34 weeks ending 27th August 2016), up £21.8m compared to the same period in 2015. According to O’Brien, this is 24% of the entire print market and is ahead of adult fiction by £3m. In volume terms, children's publishing is 33% of the entire print market, meaning one in every three books sold so far this year has been a children’s book.

If sales continue at the same pace for the rest of 2016, the children's print market will have risen 11.7% by the end of the year to £394m, marking the biggest year on year jump since 2007 (17%). The children’s yearly market value has increased by £120m over the last 10 years, a jump of 44%, O'Brien added.

The 2016 growth is set to be higher than in 2015, when it was up by 5% to £352.7m, O’Brien said. This was less marked than a year earlier in 2014, when it grew by 9%, due to a lack of “one-off big hits” in 2015, O'Brien said.

The biggest selling children's book of 2016 is J K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Little, Brown) which sold 1,155,519 copies in the four weeks to the end of August 2016, for a value of £12.3m. In its first week, the playscript sold nearly 850,000 copies, making it the fastest selling book since Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (Bloomsbury) in 2007 and instantly becoming the biggest selling playscript of all time, ahead of Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" which has sold 120,000 copies since 1998.

The playscript sales have led to a 488% boost for Rowling on the same period the year before. "Even with sales from Cursed Child stripped out, the rest of the Harry Potter series boosted Rowling’s total by 137% to £8.3m on the 52 week period for the full year 2015", O'Brien said. "Julia Donaldson made £13.8m to become the UK’s bestselling author in 2015. With four months to go, Rowling is on £17m for the year to date pretty safe bet for bestselling author of the year."

The pre-school and picture book sector saw growth of 8.5% to £129m in 2016, whilst children’s and YA fiction saw a combined growth of 18% to £151m. Seperating out the two sectors, children’s fiction is “doing the heavy lifting” by making £118m in 2016, which is up by £24m or 26%. Even with sales of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stripped out, the market made £106m, which is up 13%.
On their own, YA sales were down this year (-5%) to £30m, despite sales from Zoella's Book Club and The Lie Tree winning the Costa Book Award in January. O'Brien said this was because the market this year missed out on a “big American franchise” such as Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series or a John Green title. 

The children’s non-fiction market was down 2% to £40m but sales of school textbooks and study guides increased 2.4% to £44m.

Sales of the World Book Day £1 titles were £7.09m, a 4.9% increase on WBD 2015 and saw both Cavan Scott’s Star Wars: The Escape and Roald Dahl’s Great Mouse Plot go to number one.

According to O’Brien, Christmas 2015 was a “stellar year for children’s”, with the fastest selling Walliams title so far, World’s Worst Children, selling 334,795, and Mog’s Christmas Calamity going to number one, being the first non-World Book Day picture book to do so. It sold 448,448.

Considering Christmas 2016, O’Brien highlighted J K Rowling’s "Fantastic Beasts" screenplay (Little, Brown), which O’Brien said could become the “second bestselling play script of all time”, the Illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Jim Kay (Bloomsbury), Jeff Kinney’s 11th Wimpy Kid book Double Down, Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus (Puffin), and the as-yet-titled Walliams novel (HarperCollins Children's Books), released in November, as potential hits. O'Brien hinted that Walliams could be the first children's Christmas number one since The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J K Rowling in 2008.