Children’s Books

Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Making Authors Dreams Come True

28 January 2015

From author and illustrator Sue Shanahan:

 It’s become popular these days to badmouth Amazon, but I happen to love Amazon and their CEO, Jeff Bezos, in particular. They are what made it possible for me, a 59-year-old author/illustrator, to share her books with the world. After my children’s picture book apps found an audience, I longed to see them in print. I submitted them to countless publishers and agents and most times never even received a rejection letter.

. . . .

I thought having my apps made into books was hopeless until I heard an interview with author Hugh Howey. I learned that after being unable to find a publisher, he self-published his best seller, Wool, through Amazon. He explained that Amazon has partnered with print-on-demand company, CreateSpace. They make it possible for authors to upload their book files and have them printed on demand (in America no less). That means when one of my books is sold on Amazon, CreateSpace prints and ships it to the buyer, and I receive a royalty. The most amazing part of it is there are no upfront costs. The only downside for me was that the books are only available in softcover. It was easy to let go of my longing to have hardcover versions when I reminded myself of Victorian author/illustrator Beatrix Potter. She, too, decided to self-publish her childhood classic, The Tale Peter Rabbit, after having no luck finding a publisher.  Printing was so costly, Beatrix had to settle for a color frontispiece with interior black and white woodblock engravings. She was at peace with that because she knew the most important thing was to get her book into the hands of readers. I shared those same feelings about my stories.

Link to the rest at Commonplace Grace and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Here’s a link to Sue Shanahan’s books

Kids Exercising More Autonomy in Digital Content

14 January 2015

From Digital Book World:

In 2013, 89% of parents chose what digital content to buy for their kids, according to new research from PlayCollective and Digital Book World. But kids are now weighing in much more actively to determine what they read. Those purchasing decisions between kids and parents are now close to 50/50.

As PlayCollective’s David Kleeman put it at the Publishers Launch Kids Conference at Digital Book World 2015 in New York City this morning, the state of digital kids’ content is a “story of growth and maturation, of increasing trust among parents and kids’ own growing role in opting for e-reading and choosing their own content.”

. . . .

That’s despite leveling off in the device market, which is beginning to saturate. Replacement cycles of popular devices are diminishing as hardware improves, a finding that PlayCollective attributes to families having already “chosen their device of choice” and preferring now to upgrade “within the category they’ve already chosen.”

That means it’s more common now for kids to own multiple devices, continuing to use older ones even after they’re replaced by newer versions.

. . . .

Whichever the case, children’s publishers still tend to begin losing kids to other media by about age eleven, according to data presented today by Neilsen Book.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Record year for children’s

12 January 2015

From The Bookseller:

The UK children’s market hit an all-time high in revenue and market share in 2014, and exceeded sales of Adult Fiction for the first time since accurate records began.

Children’s print sales through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market were £336.5m for the 52 weeks to 27th December 2014, figures collected for the first of four Bookseller Reviews of the Year reveal. That is a 9.1% rise year on year, and exceeds the previoushigh-water mark for BookScan’s Children’s category, 2009’s £329.7m.

For the first time since BookScan records began in 1998, nearly £1 in every £4 spent on print books (24%) was on a children’s title; the previous high in market share was 2013’s 21.7%.

. . . .

For the first time, Children’s sales climbed above Adult Fiction, which slumped -5.3% to £321.3m. That is the fifth straight year the print fiction market has declined.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Growing Range of Devices ‘Kindle’ Growth in Kids’ E-Reading

8 January 2015

From Digital Book World:

As children and media researchers shift their sights from TV-centric studies to figuring out kids’ relationship with mobile and digital media, e-reading seems to be a primary focus for debate. Which is “better,” paper or ebooks? Do children learn to read differently from conventional versus enhanced ebooks? Of course, there’s always a certain amount of hand-wringing when disruptive new possibilities emerge.

But what do families think about e-reading, and how are they embracing it as part of their reading and book-buying habits? To answer these questions, PlayCollective and Digital Book World have conducted a series of surveys.

. . . .

We’ve found that while device popularity–e-readers, tablets, smartphones, computers–shifts from year to year, but the overall take-up of digital books is huge and growing. 92% of kids 2–13 now e-read at least once a week.

Parents still prefer paper books when they read with their children by almost 2:1, but kids prefer the digital option by a narrower margin.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Bestselling books 2014: the kids are alright

28 December 2014

From The Guardian:

At long last, kids ruled in 2014. Books aimed at them have often figured in the top 10 of the all-year sales chart for printed books, but in the respective heydays of JK Rowling, Stephenie (Twilight) Meyer and Suzanne (The Hunger Games)Collins the rest of the elite group usually consisted of grown-up titles and there was always a chance that one such mega-seller – by Dan Brown, say, or EL James– would pip them to the top spot.

This year, in contrast, seven of the top tier books including the No 1 – by John Green, David Walliams and Jeff Kinney, plus four Minecraft manuals – are for children or young adults and an eighth, Guinness World Records, is predominantly aimed at them.

. . . .

What’s fascinating about this is that there should be a market for video game spin-off books at all, let alone such a stunning one. There’s no shortage of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube, in its own online domain, but rather reassuringly young gamers en masse evidently felt a need for a hardback handbook opened next to their PCs – a demand reflecting the relative robustness of manuals of all types and children’s books, compared to other genres whose print sales and revenue have been hit harder by readers’ inexorable (though possibly slowing) flight to ebooks.

. . . .

Just like YouTube idols transformed into writers, reminiscing celebrities capitalise on their screen fame (usually on television) to win publishing deals; but the 2014 list confirms that the public long ago got out of the habit of seeing the resulting books as ideal Christmas presents. Besides the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography (12), two sports books, by Guy Martin (32) and Roy Keane (37), are the only hardback memoirs in the top 100. Yet publishers still seem in denial about the once-mighty subgenre’s slump, shelling out for much-hyped autumn offerings from John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Lydon, Graham Norton and others that all flopped.

. . . .

More surprising is the decline of cookery titles, which until recently gave crime and children’s fiction a good fight for the highest positions. The genre’s talisman Jamie Oliver, who up to 2012 routinely occupied a top 10 spot and for several years running was the Christmas-week No 1, now languishes at No 23. Mary Berry is ahead of him at No 13, but you’d expect her to be higher, given The Great British Bake Off’s vast audience.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Amazon’s best-selling holiday author

19 December 2014

From Reuters:

It sounds like the usual setup for a knock-knock joke: Who is the best-selling author on all of this holiday season? Rob Elliott. Rob Elliott who?

Yet it’s no laughing matter for Rob Teigen, a father of five in Grand Rapids, Michigan who, under the pen name Rob Elliott, currently owns the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on’s best-selling book list, outpacing such hits as “Unbroken” and the latest from Bill O’Reilly.

The source of his success: two books, “Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids” and “Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids,” both of which are aimed at parents and grandparents looking for help now that their six year olds are just discovering the art of telling jokes, but have awful material.

“I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said ‘You saved my life,’” Teigen says.

. . . .

Each year, there’s a new set of parents and grandparents in the same predicament, which explains why Teigen’s “Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids” hit No. 1 on Amazon last holiday season, too. Each book is priced at $4.95 – and $2.99 for the e-book version, a low enough price point to make an inexpensive stocking stuffer.

“Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids,” his top-seller, has sold more than 385,000 copies overall, with 90,000 this year alone, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks approximately 80 percent of U.S. book sales. About 70 percent those sales came via Amazon over the holiday season, Tiegen said.

Link to the rest at Reuters and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Here’s a link to Rob Elliot’s books

Forget Your Preconceptions About Teenagers and Reading

19 December 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Nielsen hosted the first annual Children’s Book Summit at the McGraw-Hill Building in New York City, co-chaired by Kristen McLean, editor of Nielsen’s Books & Consumers Children’s research and founder and CEO of Bookigee, and Jonathan Stolper, SVP Nielsen Books America. The focus of the conference was to delve deeply into Nielsen’s body of research in publishing, gaming, and film to dispel popular myths about kids and reading, provide publishers information about their audience that might surprise them, and offer opportunities upon which to act.

In 2014, children and teenagers are reading in record numbers and are often driving the buying of books by influencing their parents and peers. The children’s book market has grown 44% in the last 10 years, while adult publishing had its peak in 2008 and is in decline. International children’s publishing is still the largest sector of content creation at $151 billion (surpassing gaming, which is at $133 billion). And reading is still the #1 leisure activity for children 2-10. It’s at 11-13 that is starts to dip, being beaten out by television and games, and at 14-17 pleasure reading loses ground entirely.

. . . .

[N]ot only do 67% of teens read for pleasure, 50% of them also still prefer print books over ebooks. And, while we think that kids on their phones checking Facebook or tweeting means that they don’t know how to interact with each other or that it is taking away from their academic pursuits or that they are just playing games, Junco’s research actually proves the opposite. Online interactions build social capital by giving kids the opportunity to learn more about their peers and help strengthen the intimacy of those relationships and, academically, allow students to have more engagement in their subjects. Unlike adults, teens interact with technology in a very different way, so Junco warned the audience against believing those myths.

. . . .

What the research showed was that, yes, teens only spend 5% of their leisure time reading for pleasure (with watching TV receiving the largest portion of their leisure time at 19%), but book-buying teens are the ones most likely to own gaming consoles and technology like tablets and ereaders. And, with 44% of teens saying they need to disconnect from the internet or take a break, this might help explain their preference for print books. So, while gaming is popular and social media consumes some of their time, it doesn’t mean teens aren’t reading. What is more likely is that they have to read more for school, thus they might need a break from reading during leisure time.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

How To Tell If You Are in a Baby-Sitters Club Book

13 December 2014

From The Toast:

Your peer group has associate members.

You have something called a Kid Kit filled with toys that you present to children with regularity, but it isn’t creepy.

You hide candy in absurd places in your bedroom, but you do not have an ant problem.

Each of your adventures starts with a recap of who your friends are, what they look like, and their job in your organization.

You and your friends run a weird, complicated, under-the-table small business, but only one of you is “bossy.”

. . . .

You take great pleasure in listing every article of clothing you’re wearing, as well as every article of clothing each of your six closest friends are wearing.

Your shyest friend has a dreamy boyfriend with a southern accent. Nobody understands why, including said boyfriend.

You have been in literally every extracurricular activity your school has to offer, but never for longer than two weeks.

You find yourself oddly attracted to the supernatural and situations that could be described as mysterious. On some more memorable locations, you’ve even helped the police solve seemingly inexplicable crimes. And you’re not even in high school yet.

You frequently embark on cross-country and even transatlantic trips that are sponsored by your school. Your middle school.

Link to the rest at The Toast

If you have no idea what The Babysitters Club is here’s a link. One of PG’s offspring was a huge fan when she was younger.

R. A. Montgomery 1936 – 2014

15 November 2014

From Choose Your Own Adventure:

Raymond Almiran Montgomery, original publisher and author of the incredibly popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series for children, the 4th bestselling children’s series of all time, died at his home in Warren, Vermont, on Sunday, November 9th.

. . . .

In 1977, an author named approached Montgomery about publishing his interactive children’s book, Sugarcane Island. The young publisher saw it for what it was: a role-playing game in book form and eagerly agreed to put it in print.

. . . .

[Montgomery] brought “The Adventures of You” to Bantam Books, which was looking for something “different” with which to inaugurate a new children’s book division. Bantam offered Montgomery a contract for Journey Under the Sea along with five more untitled books and renamed the series Choose Your Own Adventure. Little did Bantam or Montgomery realize that a publishing legend was about to be born. Choose Your Own Adventure went on to sell more than 250 million copies across more than 230 titles in over 40 languages, making it the 4th bestselling series of children’s books in the world.

Link to the rest at Choose Your Own Adventure and thanks to M.S. for the tip.

We Watched Usher Read a Book to a Crowd of Screaming Children

9 November 2014

For visitors from outside the United States, Usher is a popular singer and performer.

From Vanity Fair:

Usher treated an excited, decidedly pro-reading crowd of schoolchildren to a reading and performance in New York on Thursday. The kids were packed into an auditorium at Scholastic’s Soho offices for a “BiggerThan Words” Web cast, which marked the launch of the book company’s “Open a World of Possible” campaign.

“You’re all Internet stars,” Scholastic’s Billy DiMichele told the audience, who was quite pleased to hear that “as many as 2 million people” were watching the live-stream of the proceedings.

“I read to escape the reality that I have in my day-to-day life,” Usher said after emerging to a frenetic reception, telling the audience that his favorite books include Green Eggs & Ham and the Winnie the Pooh series. Usher said that while his mother and other relatives would read to him, it was his first-grade teacher, Ms. Harris, who first showed him “how to use my imagination beyond what’s on the page.”

He then read If Kids Ran the World, by Leo and Diane Dillon, and performed a stripped-down version of “Without You.” Scholastic peppered the event with pre-taped video interviews with children who explained what they think “possible” means. One boy said he thinks “possible” is about making the unusual normal, “like, pigs flying, or fish out of water.” Another pint-size reader offered this rationale for why he liked books: “There is no limit. Like in a car, there’s a speed limit. But there’s no limit on reading, you can read forever, unless if you have to go to a birthday or something.” Indeed.

. . . .

“Kids, by the way, are what keep me young,” Usher told VF Hollywood. “One thing I will say about inner-city kids, is that a lot of what they say is, ‘When I have tough days, or I want to escape my reality, I go to reading.’ You might not realize it, but kids internalize things differently than we do . . . They’re just innocent, man. That’s what I keep intact, and reading does that.”

Link to the rest at Vanity Fair

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