I keep ‘noticing’ things…. reading various articles, see something new in stores, hear it on TV etc. Thought I’d start sharing some of these ‘mullings’ as they come to MY NOTICE. (share yours too!)And I’m happy to start with a recent article in PW (Publishers Weekly) about Picture books. (sorry I forgot to note WHICH week of PW~!)
The basic topic was triggered again by that Times article about Picture books being ‘dead’. LOL!! In fact it seems, PictureBooks are selling about how they were (market share) in 2005. Several publishers were involved in this article. Middle sized publishers Charlesbridge and Candlewick both agree that the market ‘is far from bleak!” Large publisher Random’s Chip Gibson says PictureBook market has GROWN and remains one of their most profitable areas. Penguin PB sales are up, but publishing fewer titles…more of a refocusing than an economic change. HarperCollins Susan Katz did admit that the ‘mid-list’ (where most of you are, 10,000 to 15,000 sold potentially) is the hardest hit. That makes it understandable that publishers are so VERY careful still about buying new ideas for PictureBooks too. But that truly isn’t bad! Hopefully those being published are BETTER for our kids and for our market!
Leonard Marcus notes that when there is a BABY BOOM there is also one with PictureBooks. A good thing, and there has been a bit of one it seems lately in spite of the ‘depression.’ He also chatted some about tendancies…like the ‘celebrity’ authors. That seems NOT to have helped the market much, nor has the remaking of classics all that much either, though if it brings them to a new generation, I’m for it! Also pushing old un/under published books by ‘passed brand authors,’ hasn’t worked out. Loved his comment that there was probably a REASON they didn’t sell while the author/artist was alive!! (duh!) These are all examples perhaps of MARKETING taking over the upper hand at publishers instead of the editors and people who KNOW BOOKS.
Getting back to the KIDS who are being pushed away from PictureBooks (Times again)… Susan Katz (HC) said that parents doing that are ‘taking the training wheels off too soon.” Parents should ask themselves “WHY?” PictureBook concepts are quite often sophisticated and timeless…a fun education about ‘life’ needed at the appropriate time in the appropriate fun way, it would seem to me. Libraries have always had a huge interest in PictureBooks because so many do a great job of marrying the writing with the informational helping illustrations. (they are loving Graphic Novels for the same reason!) In libraries, as in bookstores, PBs are harder to display well…takes more shelf space… they are large and with thin spines. Placing them ‘out’ takes a LOT of shelf. BUT Barnes and Noble stated that they are ordering just as many as ever, but ‘reducing inventory depth for softer sales.’ However, perhaps there isn’t such a soft market after all. Hard cover sales are a bit down…soft up.
Ebooks and Apps are not yet ‘cannibalizing’ PictureBooks (Sabia of Charlesbridge) but are another tool toward becoming literate in our age. Kids need and want both. In both they can learn to ‘fill in holes and make predictions as the story moves.’ One of the real pleasures of reading at any age.
I hope you are a bit uplifted by some GOOD noticed news today. Some hints though were also thrown out in this article. There is generally LESS TEXT in books these days. ALSO we in USA are very BIG CHARACTER motivated…possible brand potential. Editors seem to relish the author/illustrator offerings the most! Publishers seem to want BIG SALES right away…but this isn’t all that new to be honest in my experience. Books have a small window to do WELL, or WELL ENOUGH. Then on to the next. But maybe ‘the next’ will be YOUR book written or illustrated….and that’s not all bad either.
I have always noticed that if an artist (or writer) continually does their very best, and does what they LOVE to do, chances are very good it will not only survive, but thrive!