Children's Books as a Percentage of Total Market

Susie McGee
open book

Children's books as a percentage of total market sales have fluctuated widely in the last few decades. What we do know is that, while statistics change from one year to the next, children's books continue to be enjoyed by kids of all ages.

Trends of Children's Books as a Percentage of Total Market

The introduction of the Harry Potter series and a national concern for improving reading skills have led to a slow recovery of the children's book market after several years in which the market saw widespread cutbacks. While book sales boomed in the 1980s and early 1990s, consolidation was necessary in the leaner years of the late 1990s and beyond. Trends today have steered away from hardback children's books, and turned toward paperbacks and licensed books.

What Drives the Market

With a push towards children's literacy, children's books as a percentage of total market have seen some improvement. A national outcry for better school and public library funding has contributed to a noticeable growth in the children's book market. In recent years, the introduction of widely popular children's book series, such as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books have seen an increase in book sales.

In fact, although many publishers remained concerned over what appears to be a limited range of books available today, the children's market appears to have risen during the first part of 2009. While most of the increase has been in major publishing houses, individual publishing houses have held their own marketwise as well. Unfortunately, the limited range of books means limited choices, and that combined with a shaky economic climate can indicate a wide fluctuation in the market.

Publisher Information

The following is a breakdown of publishing houses in the United States.

  • There are six large publishing houses in New York: Random House, Inc., Penguin Putnam Inc., HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings, Time Warner, and Simon & Schuster, Inc. Out of these six, four are foreign-owned.
  • There are 300 to 400 medium-sized publishers and approximately 86,000 independent publishers.
  • Each year anywhere from 8,000 to 11, 000 new publishing houses are formed.

Book Sales Statistics

There are numerous statistics associated with books sales, but definitive sale figures can be nearly impossible to acquire. The following is a list of interesting facts on book sales statistics. Most of these statistics were found at the Authors Guild website and the Book Industry Study Group website and based on figures from 2006.

  • While a fiction book is considered "successful" if it sells 5,000 copies, a nonfiction book must sell 7,500 copies to be considered successful.
  • Children's and young adult hardcover books sales were up to $53.8 million for 2006.
  • Children's and young adult paperbacks were down to $99.4 million.
  • Women purchase 68 percent of all books bought.
  • Book buyers' median income is approximately $41,000.

Projected Future

According to a report in Publishers Weekly and the Institute for Publishing Research, the projected future of children's books as a percentage of total market sales projects soft sales in the future. In fact, soft sales are predicted through the end of 2012, although gradual increases are expected over the next five years. However, publishers predict a brighter future for digital books as electronic book sales continue to increase. Much of the increase is due to the technology age as more and more kids search for books to read online. Finally, keep in mind that while books online are a viable option, there is no substitute for cuddling up together and reading a good book.

Was this page useful?
Children's Books as a Percentage of Total Market