Children's publishers remain confident that the printed book will be the dominant format for the foreseeable future, despite a huge rise in digital sales for the adult market over the Christmas period. While children's e-book sales saw a marked rise during the Christmas period, they remain a "very small" part of the overall children's market, said Simon & Schuster Children's publisher Ingrid Selberg.
Selberg pointed to the young adult market as the obvious digital growth area in 2012. S&S authors already doing well in e-book formats include YA authors Becca Fitzpatrick and Sophie McKenzie, who sold in "substantial four-figures", although this represents just 2% of their printed book market.
After steady and "significant" growth in e-book sales last year, Emma Hopkin, m.d. of Bloomsbury Children's Books, predicted more of the same for 2012—especially among YA readers. In the US, which is slightly ahead of the UK market, children's e-books account for around 8% of Bloomsbury's overall children's sales, with some 90% of this coming from teen titles.
OUP, which sold 32% of its total annual volume e-book sales during December, pointed to a shift in e-book purchases towards younger readers. Elaine McQuade, head of marketing and publicity, said: "Previously, our bestselling e-book titles have probably been bought by an older, or even adult, audience. For example, Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, which gained a big boost in e-book sales after the film came out in the spring.
"However, e-books of our Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes, aimed at nine to 12-year-olds, were among our bestsellers in December. Parents are beginning to download contemporary children's books for their own children, as opposed to books they remember from their childhood."
Tom Conway, digital publishing manager at HarperCollins, agreed that sales are beginning to shift towards the core children's market. "This Christmas saw a surge in e-book sales across our children's list, with many young readers coming to authors like David Walliams, Derek Landy and Louise Rennison for the first time in e-book format."