Illustrated Children’s Books Affected by the Market & Self-publishing

The New York Times recently reported on the declining number of illustrated Children’s book sales figures. Several major factors have been cited as the cause of the trend, including an increased focus from parents to start their children on chapter books at an earlier age. (Literary experts will claim that push does not actually advance cognitive development.)

Are self-published books immune to this? Here are a few key considerations.

  1. The Times article reads, “…many publishers have gradually reduced the number of picture books they produce for a market that had seen a glut of them, and in an age when very young children, like everyone else, have more options, a lot of them digital, to fill their entertainment hours.” Many publishers here implies those handful of traditional publishers. The reasons they’ve gradually reduced the number… appears to be in part the result of quality self-published options.
  2. As a self-publishing author, you can focus your book sales online, with no requirement for retail returns or shelf space, and develop a niche marketing campaign to targeted readers (or buyers in this case).
  3. It is possibly as much the result of publishers pulling the plug on new illustrated titles, and not the market itself. Under the self-publishing model, YOU are the publishing executive. You call the shots, and your book never actually ‘goes out of print.’
  4. It’s not clear that this is a long term trend. Many industry insiders claim the economy is partly to blame, which is inherently in a state of flux. Furthermore, Jen Haller, the vice president and associate publisher of the Penguin Young Readers Group, said that while some children were progressing to chapter books earlier, they were still reading picture books occasionally. “Picture books have a real comfort element to them,” Ms. Haller said. “It’s not like this door closes and they never go back to picture books again.”

So have fun, and keep writing!

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