There has been one consistent message from market data over the past few months and that is the steady growth in children’s books, both print and digital (Nielsen’s BookInsights: UK Publishers Sold £2.2 Billion in 2014). Here at Vearsa we have seen some publishers make great strides in the area of Children’s eBooks with sales in this segment carrying them into overall growth as a business.
As a publisher, it would be good to ensure you are getting as much of this marketplace pie as possible. So here are some easy strategies for optimizing sales in this growing genre based on what we have seen from our view of the market.
1) Get on the Shelf
Sometimes simplicity can be the key to success, and the simplest instruction for getting a sale is to make sure your product is where the potential customer can find it. At Vearsa, we spend a lot of time reminding our customers that the retail space is growing at an exceptionally fast rate with new retailers coming online regularly. But added to this is the creative force now underpinning how retailers are selling to customers. I may be the traditional type of customer who likes to own what I buy and so the unit price model works okay for me. Or I may be swept up into the subscription way of doing things whereby I pay a fee for having access to a selection of titles. Indeed, I may be a commitment-phobe who wants to pay by the page . . . just in case! You should try and cater for as broad a spectrum of customer as possible.
We are seeing encouraging growth in children’s books in library sales with retailers such as Wheelers and Overdrive gaining some healthy ground. And in case the library model is new to you, take a look at our recent popular blog on the topic (“4 Strategies for eBook Library Pricing”). We have also seen libraries help publishers get a foothold in some hard-to-reach territories, so don’t take a passive stance on this approach as it can yield a rich vein of income in the medium- to long-term. English-language books are more and more sought after in far-flung countries so have a think about how you can improve the discoverability of you titles, and dare to be country-specific.
We have also seen very strong growth among subscription retailers, in particular Oyster.
2) Boldly Go . . .
It’s a big world out there – don’t be afraid to explore it. The beauty of eBooks is that they afford a company the luxury of experimenting beyond their usual borders at minimal cost. Take a look at what countries have growing eBook sales and find out what in particular is being read by children there. We have seen an interesting mix of countries showing significant growth in the past 12 months. India, Brazil and Austria have shown at least a trebling of sales for our publishers as a group. And when we differentiate between fiction and non-fiction there is a further distinction, with India leading the way for children’s fiction and Brazil for non-fiction.
3) Get Specific
General fiction is the winner in terms of children’s books but when we look at the detail we can see that stories set in schools or that deal with educational issues are very popular. Action & Adventure score well alongside Mysteries & Detective Stories, but it’s nice to see well-redesigned classics having a big impact as well.
Social Issues lead the way in non-fiction, but, interestingly, historic books on Military & Wars come in second on the non-fiction best sellers for our publishers. And some of the biggest growers in the past year in the non-fiction area are in Biography & Autobiography, in particular those in the political and historical arena.
4) Look Back and Learn
Here we harp back to a point we here at Vearsa keep making – don’t forget your backlist. We compared two years’ worth of children’s eBook sales. In Year 1 backlist titles represented 66% of earnings. In Year 2 that figure had risen to 72%. We can attribute some -- but not all -- of this increase to the year-on-year growth of publishers' backlist catalogues. It may also be nostalgia on the part of parents, or the creativity being used to re-imagine classics for the eBook generation. But whatever the cause, it is proving very lucrative for publishers that looked back in order to move ahead (oh dear – management speak alert!).
5) Don’t Forget Reader Engagement
There was a time when reader engagement was being lured by enhanced features whose cost made it an expensive strategy to undertake. The results were mixed given the variety of reading devices being used, thus undermining the availability of many of the features. The children’s market seemed ripe for a multi-sensory approach. However the success we have seen with various children’s titles puts us in mind of an insightful talk given by Jane McGonigal at this year’s IDPF Digital Book conference. She outlined the five main positive emotions triggered by gaming and draws a comparison with reader engagement. These emotions are Love, Pride, Awe & Wonder, Creativity and Flow. So when a young reader finds an eBook that engenders these emotions then the publisher has successfully harnessed these emotions in terms of engagement.
The reason any child loves a book is because they love somebody or something in that book. So make sure your eBook is lovable!
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