First published on www.publishersweekly.com
Children’s book industry professionals gathered on December 12 at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium in Manhattan, for the inaugural Nielsen Children’s Book Summit, a full day of presentations revealing the findings of the 2014 Nielsen Children’s Book Industry Report. The studies, conducted over a four-year period, sought to collect data that would provide insights into the ways in which children and teens consume media, specifically books, in an era of rapid technological advancements.
Among the key take-away points from the day were: children’s book sales have risen steadily across all categories, though performing strongest is middle-grade and YA fiction; children and teens have an overwhelming preference for print over digital books; tablet use has risen exponentially, even among young children; and, as raised by a panel of teen readers and other presenters, the categorization of books as YA can be problematic for book industry professionals who find the classification inadequate and for teens who are resistant to labeling.
Conference co-chairs Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee, and Jonathan Stolper, SVP, Nielsen Book, provided opening remarks about the impetus for the Nielsen studies that would be explored in-depth throughout the day. The goal behind the project, which launched in 2010, was to develop a clearer “understanding of the shifting marketplace” by “following the consumer,” said Stolper, and to determine “who is buying and why.” With shifting technologies and changes within the bookselling industry (including the closing of Borders), the ways that readers consume books has clearly evolved as well, and so the need to acquire “actionable data” with which to help reshape bookselling business models, was fundamental said Stolper. The data presented during the summit was gathered through multiple sources: Nielsen BookScan, Nielsen Books & Consumers U.S. survey, and Nielsen’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age survey.