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Posted by Kate, January 9, 2015

UK children’s book sales increased in value in 2014

Police outside Waterstones Piccadilly controlling crowds of fans keen to have The Pointless Book signed by Alfie Deyes, one of the children’s book hits of the year

Good news, people!

The Bookseller reports on Nielsen Total Consumer Market figures that show the UK children’s print book market up by 9.1% on 2013, after a really strong Christmas built on strong sales all year. This means that the market for children’s print books sold from bookshops is £336.5 million pounds, which is both the highest value for the children’s books market since records began, and means that it’s now bigger than the market for adult fiction. It’s worth bearing in mind that the biggest title of the year, John Green’s The Fault in our Stars is classified by its publisher, Penguin, as adult fiction.

Overall print book sales declined marginally by 1.3% in 2014 compared to 2013 – so children’s print book sales helped to buoy up the market significantly, and, though this is the seventh consecutive year of falling sales, overall sales decreased less than they had in 2013 (6.5% down on 2012), 2012 (4.7% down on 2011) and 2011 (7.8% down on 2010).

If you count The Fault in our Stars as a children’s books (and, frankly, I think we should), then seven of the year’s ten print bestsellers by volume were children’s booksellers. If you think that The Guiness Book of Records is more likely to be a book enjoyed by a child than an adult, you could bump that up to 8. (Because children’s books tend to be cheaper, the picture’s not quite the same if you rank books by the pounds they generated).

Our own sales of print books out of bookshops – a tiny, tiny fraction of total UK sales, of course! – were, as I mentioned in my summary of 2014 – up by 41%. Nielsen estimates that it tracks 90% of book sales. It’s worth saying that John Lewis doesn’t supply figures to Nielsen, and they are a particularly important customer for us, not just because of Monty’s Christmas, but because they’re strong supporters of a number of illustrated books on the list.