In 2018, Scholastic maintained its standing as the publisher whose books occupied the most positions on PW’s children’s frontlist fiction bestseller list, while Penguin Random House continued to dominate PW’s picture book bestseller list. Scholastic’s bestseller performance last year was particularly impressive, as it upped its market share of bestseller slots to 29.1%, compared to 26.8% in 2017. It did so by increasing the number of titles that hit the list from 40 to 48. While Scholastic increased its presence on the fiction frontlist bestseller list, PRH lost some market share there. Although the number of PRH books that hit the fiction list rose by five over 2017, to 38, those titles had shorter stays on the list than the books in 2017, resulting in PRH’s slice of frontlist fiction slots dropping by almost 10 percentage points from 2017 and giving Scholastic an almost-13-percentage-point lead over PRH in terms of frontlist fiction bestsellers market share.
Scholastic had two of the three longest-running bestsellers on the frontlist fiction list in 2018, both in Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series of graphic novels: Dog Man and Cat Kid, which stayed on the list the entire year, and A Tale of Two Kitties, which spent 35 weeks on the list. PRH had one title among the top 10 longest-running bestsellers: John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, which was on the list for 32 weeks.
Simon Schuster had a nice gain in its share of the frontlist fiction bestsellers last year, boosted by three titles that were among the category’s longest-running bestsellers: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe, the 12th book in Rachel Renée Russell’s Dork Diaries series; Scythe by Neal Shusterman; and the movie tie-in to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.
One highlight of the picture book bestseller list is the three publishers that hit the ranking after failing to qualify in 2017 (publishers need to have at least a 2% share of all slots to hit the ranking). Sourcebooks has invested heavily in its children’s division and had seven titles on the picture book bestseller list last year, good enough for a 2.7% share. Chronicle had three titles on the picture book bestseller list, but its most important one was A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss and Marlon Bundo, which was on the list for 16 weeks.
At the top of the picture book list, PRH lost a little market share in 2018 compared to 2017 but still held an almost-23-percentage-point lead over second-place HarperCollins. Similar to what occurred on the fiction frontlist side, PRH had more titles hit the picture book list last year—81, up from 69 in 2017—but their stays on the list tended to be shorter than the year before, and the house’s share of overall positions fell to 35.6%, from 37.8% in 2017.
Macmillan slipped from second place on the picture book list in 2017 to third last year. The number of books it released that reached the chart fell in half, from 16 to eight, but the company had two of the most reliable picture book sellers: First 100 Words by Roger Priddy—which, after spending all 52 weeks on the bestseller list in 2017, stayed on the list for 47 weeks in 2018—and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle, which was on the 2018 list for 36 weeks. And Macmillan had the only picture book that cracked the 10-longest-running-books list in 2018 that wasn’t on the 2017 ranking: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna, was on the list for 34 weeks, knocking off Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. The staying power of these picture books points to the important role backlist sales play in the children’s book market.
Children’s Bestsellers by CorporationFrontlist Fiction Company Books Positions Share 2018* Share 2017* Scholastic 48 379 29.1% 26.8% Penguin Random House 38 204 15.7% 25.3% Simon Schuster 24 149 11.5% 7.7% HarperCollins 25 138 10.6% 10.0% Disney 26 116 8.9% 13.8% Macmillan 20 113 8.7% 4.0% Hachette Book Group 25 87 6.7% 7.5% Abrams 4 56 4.3% 4.4% Andrews McMeel 5 29 2.2% — Picture Books Penguin Random House 81 463 35.6% 37.8% HarperCollins 36 166 12.8% 11.8% Macmillan 8 156 12.0% 12.1% Scholastic 17 92 7.1% 7.1% Simon Schuster 14 82 6.3% 8.0% Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 6 73 5.6% 6.0% Firefly 1 42 3.2% 3.5% Sourcebooks 7 35 2.7% — Candlewick 4 31 2.4% — Chronicle 3 31 2.4% —
*This figure represents the publisher’s share of the 1,300 bestseller positions on the list in question during the year indicated (there are 25 positons on each weekly list). To qualify for the list, a publishers must have at least 2% of all position for the year.
Longest-running Children’s Bestsellers of 2018Weeks on Frontlist Fiction 52 Dog Man and Cat Kid
(Dog Man #4)
Graphix 47 The Getaway
(Diary of a Wimpy Kid #12)
Amulet 35 Tale of Two Kitties
(Dog Man #3)
Graphix 32 Turtles All the Way Down
Dutton 31 Children of Blood and Bone
Holt 29 Tales from a Not-So-Secret
(Dork Diaries #12)
Rachel Renée Russell
Aladdin 26 A Wrinkle in Time
Square Fish 26 Scythe
Simon Schuster 22 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens
Agenda (movie tie-in)
HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray 21 Harry Potter and the
Scholastic/Levine 21 To All the Boys I’ve Loved
Before (movie tie-in)
Simon Schuster Weeks on Picture Books 49 The Very Hungry
Philomel 48 Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown,
illus. by Clement Hurd
HarperFestival 47 First 100 Words
Priddy Books 47 Dr. Seuss’s ABC
Random House 43 Giraffes Can’t Dance
Giles Andreae, illus. by
Cartwheel 42 Love You Forever
Robert N. Munsch
Firefly 36 Brown Bear, Brown Bear,
What Do You See?
Bill Martin Jr., illus by Eric Carle
Holt 36 Little Blue Truck
Alice Schertle, illus. by
HMH 34 The Pout-Pout Fish
Deborah Diesen, illus. by
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 34 Oh, the Places You’ll Go!