Nielsen’s second Children’s Book Summit took place on September 16th at the Forum at Convene – a handsome downtown space east of Wall Street. This year (the first Summit took place in December 2014) the emphasis was on publishers’ customers, both booksellers and readers, and to that end there were three live panels of adult YA readers, indie booksellers, and teens.
The YA group was surprisingly label-agnostic, in that they read what they wanted without worrying about how it was categorized. One male panelist suggested that, instead of YA, it be renamed YAH – young at heart. The booksellers were full of practical suggestions, mentioning that having reps meet with their staff was a big win, as was (of course) having authors come to their stores. They also mentioned that more showers are being thrown for first time grandmothers, and that books they will be reading to their grandchildren are being given to them as presents. The teen group had a range of books that they were excited about, many of them movie tie-ins but also some backlist titles that they had discovered, including Judy Blume, Catcher in the Rye – even The Lovely Bones, which they considered YA.
Nielsen Books SVP and Global MD Jonathan Stolper hosted the Summit with Director of New Business Development, Kristen McLean, and several other senior Nielsen executives, delivered presentations whose purview was – literally – global. Jonathan Nowell talked about opportunities and potential problems in the market, specifically focusing on pricing issues, and how many factors have to be taken into account when determining the price of a book in any market. This came up several times during the day, notably when Kempton Mooney, who heads Nielsen Books’ research, talked about how to weigh social media data against demographic and sales data to determine the ideal price (or price elasticity) in any given age range, format and/or genre.
Nielsen SVP of Insights and Analytics Julanne Schiffer talked about what’s important to an author’s brand, especially relative to celebrities in other media. Likability and dependability are both very important, and in children’s, so is humor. VP, Multicultural Growth and Strategy Courtney Jones made a great argument that publishers note the demographic shifts that have already impacted them: in the 9-and-under age range, a majority of the US is already non-white. So, she argued, the shift that will affect the work force in 2040, has already affected schools and children’s media.
The day, which balanced practical information with analysis of trends and data, ended with a look at how to position authors to maximize their audience – a fitting way to wrap up a day that delivered thoughtful and actionable advice to a very receptive group of publishers.