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The Wimpy Kid — a $500 million franchise


Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series gets profiled, revealing that it has now joined such publishing behemoths as Twilight and Stieg Larsson – indeed only the late Swedish author beat Kinney as the best selling author in the US last year. The piece expands a bit on how YA publishing is still strong as other genres fade:

Juvenile/YA sales now surpass adult trade fiction and nonfiction sales combined. As recently as 2006, adult trade and juvenile/YA sales were about even at 474 million and 464 million books, respectively. But in 2011, Greco projects that Americans will buy 484 million juvenile/YA books and 411 million adult trade books. He estimates that juvenile/YA revenue will rise $100 million to $3.29 billion in 2011 even as overall print book revenue declines for publishers. While e-book sales have grown more slowly than in adult trade, he projects that will change rapidly during the next two years. Greco has a simple test to drive home the growth of juvenile/YA books: He counts the shelves at bookstores like Barnes & Noble. In 2007, Greco counted 62 shelves and one display table (“dump,” in book lingo) devoted to them at a New York-area store. In April, the same store devoted 92 shelves and four dumps to books from the category.

The piece ends with a look at some of the most successful YA franchise — several of which now have graphic novel components or adaptations. Take heed!


  1. Typos!!! “gets” profiled. Revealing that “it” has now. The piece “expands”.

    Not to bust balls but it really does pull me right out of the article.

  2. When we opened in November, 2010 this was a large part of our business model.
    We have about one third of our store dedicated to kids/YA books. This is another revenue stream for us as surviving on superhero comics doesn’t cut it anymore for comic shops.

    Luckily, we are located in the middle of 5 schools (K-5, & Middle) in South Park Slope and we keep up to date on the latest trends by actually talking to the kids on what they like/what’s hot and cater to that market.

    Bone, Amulet, Owly & Missle Mouse keep flying off the shelves every time I restock, Dungeon by Trondheim has been a surprise, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier has been blessing for parents who are looking for something to get for their daughters or for any young girl wanting to read something they can relate to. I lost count on how many copies I sold of that book. Though they can get these books cheaper online, parents love to look through a physical book to make sure it’s appropriate for their families, and a 20% discount for the kids/YA product doesn’t hurt either.

    Thanks to Tony Shenton, our Shcolastic/PaperCutz rep, Jim Salicrup at PaperCutz, Chris Staros at Top Shelf & Gina Gagliano with First Second for helping us with what we need to learn more about this growing field.

    On another note, we also sell lots of kids comics and some days we outsell the Big Two comics with what they know and see on tv & movies: (Batman-Brave & Bold, Young Justice, Simpsons, and especially Ben 10, Scooby Doo & Tiny Titans), kid friendly comics from Boom Studios (Cars, Toy Story) and Archie (Archie Line, Sonic & Mega Man). Image has come on strong with Super Dinosaur, Gladstone School…, & Redd Gunther, while Star Wars comics and Disney are always steady sellers.

    Here’s a couple of tricks to get parents and kids into your store:
    1-Make your store clean, bright and inviting for parents/kids
    2-put the kids material up front in your window displays and right by the door so parents/kids see want they want immediately and can bring their strollers/backpacks into the area to do their shopping. Instant gratification can go a long way with customers.

    And here’s one that a lot of dealers aren’t going to like:
    Get an old spinner rack and take all your old Archie’s, Batman Adventures, Cartoon Network Action Pack’s, Richie Riche’s, etc. that have been sitting in your back issue boxes for years and years, y’know the ones that are priced at $3, $5, $7 that you can’t sell because kids don’t read comics anymore?
    Those. Take them, put them in your spinner rack and sell them for $1! Yes a dollar!
    You will not believe what will happen: parents like the nostalgia factor of the spinner rack and the great cheap prices in this economy, kids will buy Archie/Betty & Veronica’s as a form of cheap entertainment on the way home from school and you have given parents/kids a hook to come into your store and check out the other merchandise.
    It works, those loss leaders really work, I can’t tell you how many young kids, especially girls buy those old Archie’s/B&V’s because parents approve of them and it reminds them of the shows they watch on the Disney/Nickelodeon channels, and once they are hooked, you have them for other product as well.

    Now also give them some free stuff as well: temporary tattoos, buttons, bookmarks, etc. these are called “freemiums” that grateful parents will remember and keep coming back time & time again.
    Call your DC rep to get the free Tiny Titan tattoos and the bags of promotional buttons to hand out, they are a great calling card for your store and your products.

    We have done pretty good, even better than we thought in these tough economic times, making your store more than just superhero comics is the way to go, and with DC’s new revamp, which myself and customers alike do not approve of, selling kids/YA books is making a lot more sense.

  3. I think an important question to ask is… why do kids read but adults don’t?

    Is it because no one is writing books that really capture the imagination of adults? Is it because their souls are dead?

  4. I think an important question to ask is… why do kids read but adults don’t?

    The last national survey of adults’ reading habits might have been the NEA survey, “To Read or Not to Read,” published in 2007. A fairly recent survey by the Pew Research Center on adult online news consumption had some statistics on general reading habits:

    —Just over a third of those surveyed read a book the day before they were surveyed. Of that 35 percent, 4 percent read an e-book. The same number listened to an audio book. Of the e-book readers, the percentages are small but here’s some anecdotal info: 7 percent with a college degree read a book compared to 2 percent with high school or some college. In the age groups, the highest e-book readership was 6 percent for ages 30-49, followed by 5 percent ages 50-64—and only 2 percent of 18-29.

    A 2010 survey led by Scholastic found that kids are reading less, and using electronic gadgets more:

    From age 6 – 17, the time kids spend reading books for fun declines while the time kids spend going online for fun and using a cell phone to text or talk increases.

    Parents express concern that the use of electronic and digital devices negatively affects the time kids spend reading books, doing physical activities, and engaging with family.

    Technology can be a positive motivator to get kids reading – over half of kids (age 9-17) say they are interested in reading an eBook, and a third of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had access to eBooks on an electronic device.

    Might those figures mean that there are more children interested in reading digital comics than there are adults?


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