Children's publishers to play it safe with 2010 lists

<p>The outlook for the children&#39;s market this year will be cautious, low risk and very traditional&mdash;despite publishers saying 2009 performed better than expected. The end of year collapse of Borders in particular has contributed to &quot;setting the tone&quot; for 2010, according to Stephanie Barton, managing director of Penguin Children&#39;s Books.</p><p>Managing director of Macmillan Children&#39;s Books Emma Hopkin said 2009 began with &quot;trepidation given the way the pound dropped at the end of 2008, but the Bologna book fair surprised everyone&quot;, with a &quot;buoyant&quot; feeling that &quot;continued into 2009&quot;.</p><p>Growth in the non-traditional market, particularly the internet and gift sectors, helped independent Barefoot Books perform &quot;slightly better&quot; in 2009 than in 2008, said editor-in-chief Tessa Strickland. She added: &quot;Because consumers stayed at home for the holidays, they bought more gift items through non-traditional outlets such as farm shops, while internet sales, particularly through Amazon, were strong and steady.&quot;</p><p>Other sectors, especially the institutional market, were &quot;incredibly tough&quot;, said Marlene Johnson, m.d. of Hachette Children&#39;s Books. &quot;Schools and libraries are worried about budgets and the pressure on non-fiction from the internet has become much more intense.&quot;</p><p>It has also become much harder to establish new and literary names on the high street or in libraries. &quot;The market for fledgling authors has fallen away very quickly,&quot; said Johnson.</p><p>Barton said &quot;very traditional, no-risk purchases&quot; such as Beatrix Potter and Eric Carle did well for Penguin Children&#39;s in 2009. In 2010 children&#39;s publishers are expecting &quot;safe&quot; buying to continue. Consumers will continue to &quot;look for value&quot; in 2010, said Strickland, adding: &quot;We are braced for the first quarter of 2010 to be quite challenging.&quot;</p><p>Hopkin said Macmillan had cut its list by about one third in order to focus &quot;more energy&quot; on the titles it was publishing, while Penguin is reacting to the tougher conditions on the high street by focusing on more direct-to-consumer marketing. </p>