Where do children’s books sell? Well, the answer may be quite surprising to you. Perhaps you think of a small independent children’s bookstore or a large bookstore chain when you think of where children’s books sell, but bookstores are only one of the many markets for children’s books.
Next time you’re in your local grocery store, take a careful look around. The odds are, there are children’s books hiding somewhere there. My local grocery store has several different places where children’s books are displayed. There’s a rack that contains educational workbooks for children, a few choice board books displayed near some plastic toys and a few more children’s books that double as gift books in the magazine and book section. During the holidays, I’ve noticed a few well-placed children’s books near the holiday card section as well.
Target has a great children’s book section. In fact, Target’s family-friendly philosophy includes an emphasis on reading advocacy and they show it with a fairly extensive book section in their stores. I’m a fan of Target’s great inexpensive merchandise and I think they have a savvy bookbuyer. The books they choose for children are classic favorites and bestsellers, but if you research their display you’ll see that once in awhile a wonderful book that you’ve never seen before is there. Several times every year, after I’ve gathered up my shopping cart filled with merchandise I stand in the children’s book aisle and imagine my book on the shelf. It’s a very pleasant visualization exercise, especially since there are always children and their parents talking and picking books off the displays. Maybe the Target bookbuyer will read this and email me. Well, I can dream can’t I?
Almost every retail store that’s family friendly has the potential to become a distributor of a few choice books. I love to shop at Kohls as well and I was very excited during last Christmas season to see a display with the fabulous Laura Numeroff’s series of books including, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
Books are Fun is a book fair company that sells children’s books through display marketing at schools, hospitals and corporations across the US. Their business model is based on giving back to these organizations. Schools that host the book fairs receive a percentage of the profits. Books are Fun is the largest, most successive display company in the world and the buyers there are very selective about the books they include in their yearly releases. They market test their products in small quantities to ensure that their customers will love them before they buy or license a book in large quantities (25,000 units or more for a nationwide release).
There are other smaller book fair companies as well. In fact, there is a great book fair company in the Northern California Bay Area where I live called Banana Seed Books. I love that name!
I remember my first trip to the library when I was little. My mother checked out so many books for my sister and me that the stack was almost as tall as we were. My sister and I would compete to see who could read the most books during the summer. Going to the library was ranked on an equal par with going out for ice cream—that’s how much we loved reading. Even with all the other outlets for children’s books, the library market is still one of the largest. One very useful tool for researching libraries is the WorldCat.org website. You can type in any children’s book title and get a feeling for the types of libraries across the US that have purchased the book.
Keep your eyes open as you go to your local gift store, specialty market or florist. Children’s books are sold in so many places. Work with your publicist to come up with creative ways to tap into these markets or if you’re self-published think of ways you can ensure your next book will fit perfectly into your favorite store.