Children’s Ebook Revenue Nosedive Drags Down Trade in 2013

ebooks on tabletsA sharp decline in revenue generated by children’s ebook publishing is dragging down overall results for trade publishing in 2013, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers.

Revenue for children’s ebooks was down nearly 44% to $59 million in the first four months of 2013, likely due mostly to an unfavorable comparison with the previous year. In other words, no titles have stepped in to replace the void left by The Hunger Games trilogy once its sales slowed.

Meanwhile, sales of adult ebooks were up about 12% to $437 million and sales of religious ebooks were up nearly 8% to $24.6 million. Across all three formats, ebooks are basically flat for the year at 0.7% growth to $520.6 million in revenue.

Ebooks now represent 28.7% of trade revenues across those three categories, up from about 27% through the first quarter.

Related: Ebooks up Modestly in First Quarter 2013

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3 thoughts on “Children’s Ebook Revenue Nosedive Drags Down Trade in 2013

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  2. Michael W. Perry

    Someone needs to modify these age-related publishing categories. I’d hardly call The Hunger Games a children’s book. It’s the very sort of dark and grim tale that many parents keep from their children. The same can be said about the Harry Potter series.

    Books for teens and young adults are radically different from those for real children. Above a certain age, those growing up often seem to rebel against the Fu-Fu the Bunny tales they read as children. Faced with the uncertainties of looming adulthood, they want the dark and scary.

    And I certainly hope so. I currently working on adapting a bestselling 19th century novel for adults into a much shorter novel for teens to be called Lily’s Ride: Saving Her Father from the Ku Klux Klan. Set in the horrors of the Reconstruction Era South, it describes all too vividly the violence that accompanied the return to white supremacy and Democratic party rule. In the climax, a teen girl makes desperate ride though the night to warn her father that he’s about to be burned to death by the Klan. You can hardly get darker and more terrifying than that, and it is emphatically NOT a book for children. That said, it is a marvelous story and one written by someone who saw the era’s horrors for himself.

    Visit any public library on a Saturday morning and you’ll discover that the ebook market for small children is likely to always be limited. You’ll find parents checking out a foot-high stack of print books for their children. That something-physical that kids can touch, turn and even abuse a bit will always have advantages over a pricey tablet that makes no visible distinction between stories, just icons to tap.

    And the high-tech gimmicks don’t deal with the real reason many kids like to be read to. They want interactive time with their parents not flashy talking gadgets to distract them. The more a parent has to do to make a story come alive, the better. There’ll always be a market for that.

    –Michael W. Perry, My Nights with Leukemia.

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