Comedy and “new adult” will be among the hot trends for 2013, according to children’s publishers. Industry leaders also foresee greater collaboration with readers in the children’s industry.
Egmont Press m.d. Cally Poplak said: “I think digital will be exciting this year, it is moving from [being used by] ‘tech’ teens to ‘editorial’ teens who are much more confident with the content. It is much more about experimentation and creation, and some participation, whether that is about teens contributing as authors or through social media.”
Walker editorial director and fiction publisher Gill Evans said: “New adult [a slightly broader and older market than young adult] is an exciting growth area, and there is fan fiction alongside that, that whole idea of what you might do with that audience who are already reading on digital and writing themselves.” She predicted there would be “far fewer” stories coming from traditional acquisition routes. Evans said: “We are looking to be opportunistic and have the earliest engagement—not just investment—so can control how it comes together. It feels like all kinds of things are possible.”
However, Hachette Children’s m.d. Marlene Johnson warned that there would be a lot cheap content coming from new digital companies: “I think children’s publishers will really struggle against the plethora of cheap semi-animated picture books that are available for tablets at giveaway prices. I think pretty mediocre artwork can look nice on a tablet; for books you need stunning artwork. There is a real change there, it undermines quality illustrations. We’ll reinforce the quality of our work—quality will be king.”
In terms of genres, publishers back comedy for a strong 2013, with Orion General m.d. Lisa Milton saying: “It is something light-hearted when times are tough.” Meanwhile, Johnson said: “I think it’s going to be pretty raunchy. I think they want really strong thrills.” Evans predicted vampires will continue to be big, with Milton and Poplak saying shows such as “X-Factor” will continue to influence the market, with more celebrity involvement in titles and series on singing.
Meanwhile, publishers are predicting a fresh wave of royal books. Poplak said: “The love affair with the royals will continue with the royal baby—we have plans up our sleeves.”