October 1-15, 2003 Edition

HOME:   Children’s Book Sales Up

for First Half, But Numbers of Copies Decline

NEW YORK, NY/9/18/03—iSPSOS BookTrends has released a new report showing that consumers spent more money on children’s books during the first half of 2003 compared to the previous year but bought fewer books.

According to the report, sales rose 10 percent to an estimated $840 million, but the number of books purchased dropped by 6 percent to 188 million, meaning that consumers paid nearly twice as much per book. BookTrends says higher-priced books, such as those with sound and interactive modules, and the higher cost of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix skewed the numbers higher.

The report also notes a decline in the number of consumers buying books. The percentage of American households buying at least one book for a child under age 14 dipped from 24 percent during the first half of 2002 to 22 percent in the first half of 2003.

Mass merchandisers reported a significant drop in purchases from 14.1 percent in the first six months of 2002 to 11.7 percent in the first half this year.

Book clubs, fairs and malls sold the largest share of books, 29.8 percent, compared to 26 percent in the last period. Bookstores also gained in market share, capturing 19.8 percent of the books sold, an increase over the 16.3 percent share in the last period. Dollar stores took a significant hit, with their share of the market falling from 15.4 percent to about 11 percent.

In a different industry report, The Association of American Publishers reported that children’s books in the first half of 2003 rose by 67 percent, while children’s paperback sales remained flat. BookTrends figures are based on consumer diaries and AAP numbers are based on sales reported by publishers.