Children’s Book Publishers Think ‘Outside the Book’
Dawn Van Zant, owner of Point Roberts, Wash.-based Wild Heart Ranch Publishing, says MP3 and audio formats are turning free samples of content into sales. “People hear a sample of a book and want to buy it,” she says. “Or even being listed by Google [Book Search] works well—we have uploaded through Google and get traffic back through that. If a potential buyer can get a couple pages, that could entice them. We even did audio [in Chinese] for a Chinese book … and found it effective.”
Strength In Numbers
LaBrie says Kane/Miller’s monthly e-newsletter has been extremely helpful. Separate editions are distributed for parents, teachers, librarians and other groups, and are not sent directly to children. “We have around 5,000 people receiving [the e-newsletters],” she says.
Wells says sometimes joining forces with other publishers of similarly themed titles can be another strong way to reach retailers and audiences. “This fall, [Abrams has] a book called ‘Hellphone,’ he says, “and Simon and Schuster had ‘Hellbent’ coming out, so we pitched our books together to places …. Simon and Schuster also has a book on Iran and its culture, as do we, so we may join forces there, too.”
LaBrie also sees mobile content and blogs that are more specific to children as growth markets for the future. “We call it ‘thinking outside the book.’ But even though blogs and cell phone marketing are hits with adults, it will take time until that’s a part of a young child’s world. Everyone in the industry will be watching this closely,” says LaBrie.
Quality Over Quantity
Publishers exploring new ways to promote their books may be able to focus those efforts on fewer titles. According to Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency, 2005’s preliminary book production figures compiled show a drop in the number of new juvenile titles produced—the first drop recorded in at least the last 13 years. In 2005, children’s books showed double-digit decreases in new titles and editions.