In anticipation of the Bologna International Book Fair, there’s no shortage of buzz about the fast-emerging kids’ markets in Asia, Latin America, and the Arab world, along with curiosity about how the traditional powerhouses of France, Spain, and Germany are faring. Falling somewhere in between, the smaller European territories are feeling the benefit of Asian markets hungry for content, but also the challenge of staying visible on the global scene as larger European countries develop their digital publishing industries, often at a faster rate.
All children’s publishers in these smaller territories conceded their relative good fortune in contrast to non-children’s publishing colleagues, due to parents’ (and even some governments’) unwillingness to cut corners on what they see as children’s cultural education. In Greece, says Dominique Sandis, Commissioning Editor at Psichigios Publications, juvenile “hasn’t felt the full extent of [the financial crisis’] wrath on publishing,” despite lower production numbers. Children’s publishers in those hardest-hit markets have suffered most in terms of the value of advances they are able to offer, agree Sandis and Hana Whitton, the Director of Oxford Literary in the UK , which represents many Hungarian and Baltic publishers. Several US Scouts and Rights Directors report that it’s only within the past 6 months that Greek publishers have started buying again, suggesting a hopeful upturn in business.
There is also concern over the production cost of small, four-color print runs, and over publishers’ attempts to absorb more costs by offering large discounts. “I’m worried people won’t recognize these prices as low anymore…and it will become impossible to produce good books, especially picture books, anymore,” says Eefje Buenen, Editor at Leopold in the Netherlands. In Finland, the number of children’s/YA titles has seen significant growth, but in a tiny country with tiny (expensive) print runs, the size of the market itself has held steady even as the variety of titles has increased, reports Outi Mäkinen, Director of Children and Juvenile Publishing at Tammi, Bonnier Finland.