As we are on the cusp of the most important international event dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry–The Bologna Children’s Book Fair gets underway on March 30–it seems only right to focus on this sector of the publishing industry.
It is an area that is generating inquiries from all corners of the globe. When assessing some recent statistics, it’s little wonder. The American Association of Book Publishers (AAP) recently reported that sales for children’s and YA books rose by 20.8% to $1.9 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, children’s and YA e-book sales soared by 33.7%, to $227.3 million. This sector of the industry was said to have had the strongest gains of all publishing segments in the last year [DONT’ WE HAVE AN ARTICLE THAT SAYS THIS? FIND IT, LINK TO IT], benefiting from a number of blockbuster titles including the Divergent trilogy.
In terms of rights and licensing, we’re seeing publishers looking for better ways to engage with a younger audience and best monetize their IP. Vlogging certainly represents one growth area. According to the 2014 Nielsen Children’s Book Industry Report, watching video content online is the second most popular activity for kids up to age six (after reading print books for fun), and the fifth for kids ages 7–12. Additionally, 43% of children under 12 are streaming videos on tablets (up 3% from fall 2013, and up 17% from fall 2012), while 58% of teenage girls, and 50% of boys, are said to be doing so.
Book publishers have not been slow to catch onto this fact. This was highlighted recently highlighted in the U.K., when 24-year-old beauty vlogger and YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg’s (aka Zoella) debut YA novel Girl Online broke the record for highest first-week sales for a debut author in the region. The book sold 78,109 copies—besting J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter titles and E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. This particular title has not necessarily traveled well overseas, in terms of sales, but that’s not to say that online popularity couldn’t transfer into sales on both a domestic and global level.
Licensing opportunities also extend further afield. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers recently signed a multi-year agreement with the Lego Group to develop a publishing program based on a number of Lego properties. It’s clear that the toy, gaming and various multimedia industries are forming closer relations than ever with the book publishing industry in order to maximize IP, and generate additional licensing revenue streams. Minecraft books are reported to be worth £2.5m alone, with four recently placed titles in the Amazon AMAZON UK OR US? top 40 at the same time. Then we have all the Disney-related books, which produce huge numbers, even without the Frozen phenomenon.
So we’ll be watching closely for any trends emerging from Bologna, and to see how these turn into valuable incremental licensing revenue for a variety of publishers…in and outside of the book world.