Surge in children's book sales a real page-turner

BOOK BOOM: Tahlarah Dixon, 6, reads one of the books that has accounted for a boom in children’s book sales in the last year. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0812books3

BOOK BOOM: Tahlarah Dixon, 6, reads one of the books that has accounted for a boom in children’s book sales in the last year. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0812books3

A SURGE in the number of children’s books sold in Australia in the past year has quashed predictions children would turn away from printed books in favour of electronic books.

Collins Booksellers owner Margaret Schwebel says the popularity of children’s books augers well for the future of bookshops.

“We have more than a quarter of our shop dedicated to children’s books now,” she said.

Children’s book sales rose by 12.5 per cent in the past year, with many older titles retaining their popularity.

“Whenever we go to one of our many book fairs it’s lovely to see children just run for a book and claim it as their own, and I’ve never once heard a child say they’ve got it on E-reader,” Mrs Schwebel said.

She said it was the high quality of children’s reading and picture books that contributed  to the strong market.

“Children’s picture books now have magnificent illustrations, they are a work of art,” she said.

Mrs Schwebel said classic children’s books were as popular as ever, and were not being overlooked for newer titles.

“Books like The Magic Faraway Tree, and the Wizard of Oz, for example, are being beautifully produced with new illustrations and covers, and so are so many of the classics that have been around for years,” she said.

Mem Fox’s Possum Magic topped the list of sales in Australia last year.

Mrs Schwebel said one big surprise was the popularity of the book for adolescents The Fault In Their Stars, which tells the story of two teenagers with cancer who meet at a support group.

“We’ve sold so many copies of this book,” she said.

“There’s a real turn away from the vampire-type stories, which were so popular with this age group.”

Books for boys also account for part of the increase in book sales, according to Mrs Schwebel.

“Authors such as Andy Griffiths and John Flanagan are huge at the moment for boys,” she said.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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