Graphic novels for children were up 25% in sales between 2015-2016, according to NPD Bookscan’s Kristen McLean. IT’s part of a continued strength in children’s book sales, despite the electronic evolution of iPad and iPhone babysitting devices.

McLean delivered this and other demographic info at Global Kids Connect 2017, a conference for publishers held in NYC on Monday.

McLean also delivered a report at this year’s ICv2 conference at NYCC and she’s a dynamic speaker with a ton of data points from Bookscan’s sales information to back her up. She also revealed the surprising fact that children’s book sales in general are up:

McLean noted that the children’s sector has grown faster than the overall print books market in the past five years, with 233 million units sold in 2017 compared to 181 million in 2012. As a result, she sees children’s as having become “a centerpiece” for many publishers in a way it wasn’t before, thanks to its stability and growth.
Comics and graphic novels, with sales driven by indies and mass merchants, are hot; sales have grown since 2011 with almost a 25% growth rate between 2015-2016 alone, with books by Raina Telgemeier, Dav Pilkey, and Gene Luen Yang, and series such as Big Nate, Dork Diaries, and March all part of that trend.

Although the growth in kids books was partly due to a new JK Rowling title, the growth pattern seems solid even without Harry Potter. And Kids gns are a strong part of that growth.

There are, however, still a few roadblocks. I’m told that publishers would love to see B&N get its own kids graphic novel section – as there is for adult comics – but the children’s book buyer at the chain is singularly resistant to the notion. A year ago I told you that getting more BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) codes for kids GNs was a huge part of breaking out the category. As wonky as these book industry practices are, they are all steps on allowing greater growth for an already strong category.


  1. school systems/PTAs across the country are really supporting and funding school libraries. Its a huge deal. Not to mention public libraries having legit graphic novel sections now. Lots of places for kids to get books. Plus, so many kids get issued iPads/laptops from their schools, reading a physical book becomes refreshing.

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