World Book Day director Kirsten Grant said she was “delighted” with the event this year, as sales of children’s books increased 24% week on week in the wake of the March event.
“I was so delighted with World Book Day this year, it was so much bigger than in 2014,” she said. “I felt we turned the corner not only in book sales and token redemption but also in terms of the huge saturation of media coverage.”
Grant said booksellers saw “loads” of children buying books around World Book Day on 5th March, a claim backed by Nielsen BookScan figures, which show that for the seven days to 7th March 2015, the children’s, YA and educational book market totalled £6.8m, 24% up on the previous week (£5.5m). Sales were also 6.5% up compared to the same week in 2014, in the week ending 8th March 2014 when the value of the children’s market was £6.4m.
Grant attributed the growth to sales of the 10 “hugely popular” World Book Day £1 titles, which altogether sold a total of 837,950 copies across a seven-week period, beginning two weeks before World Book Day, a 7.3% increase from 780,600 copies last year.
The most popular £1 book was The Dinosaur That Pooped a Lot! by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter (Penguin Random House Children’s), which sold 130,011 copies in the seven-week period, followed by Elmer’s Parade by David McKee (Andersen Press, 100,064 units) and The Diary of Dennis the Menace: World Book Day Menace Day by Steven Butler (PRH Children’s, 97,538 copies). Sales of the teen £1 books were lower, with Marcus Sedgwick’s Killing the Dead (Orion) selling 45,528 copies and Holly Smale’s Geek Girl: Geek Drama (HarperCollins Children’s) selling 67,222 units. However, Grant said sales of around 45,000 were average for teen titles so Smale “bucked the trend”. “Geek Girl is hugely popular with girls,” Grant said. “It’s very aspirational and Holly did a lot of publicity with us this year, which may have helped.”
This year Grant also launched TeenFest, an online festival about YA books, featuring interviews with authors, music playlists and blogs, with content spread across social media and WBDTeenFest.com. The website had 42,000 page views during the event and Grant said she “definitely” wants to do it again, even though few boys took part (boys only made up 15% of those using the site this year).
Grant said: “I think girls are much more likely to get involved in the social side of things, while boys read and engage in a much quieter way. For a lot of boys, there’s also the eternal frustration that reading just isn’t cool for them. We did make sure there was something for everyone in there.”
Another goal for next year is to improve token redemption; one million out of the 14 million tokens sent out were redeemed. Grant said: “We try to get across the token message in everything we do. This is a constant challenge, even though overall book sales were up.”
Looking forward to next year, Grant said the goal is “consolidation”. All of the new WBD initiatives— including TeenFest and the World Book Day Award for school libraries (funded by author James Patterson)— will return, and the World Book Day tour will again visit 10 different locations around the UK.”
The organisers will also launch a “bumper book quiz” about children’s literature for schools.
Grant indicated that 2017 in particular would be a year to watch out for: “[It] is the 20th anniversary [of WBD in 2017], so we’re working towards that. We want to focus on exciting things and make them even bigger.”