Brands, Licensing, Partnerships and don’t forget Consumer Insight: The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2015

On the 29th September I attended the annual Bookseller Children’s Conference. Having started my publishing career in the children’s sector, I’m always pleased when it’s my turn to go and it was a great opportunity to catch up with old colleagues and find out the latest trends and concerns within the lively world of children’s book publishing.

The recurrent themes of the day were brands, licensing and partnerships and the conference got off to a great start with a presentation from Cally Poplak, Managing Director of Egmont Publishing UK, on the subject of Building Children’s Brands. Poplak distilled Egmont’s strategy for success into one sentence: We publish what children love to read. She explained that the publisher’s aim is to make children proud readers and to produce books that are engaging and appealing to the child. Consumer insight and analysis is key to achieving this and by identifying what motivates different readers and book buyers, marketing and publicity campaigns can also be tailored to fit the various motivations. Regarding skills and the future of publishing, Poplak confirmed that old fashioned publishing skills are as important as ever but it is increasingly important that traditional publishing methods are underpinned by consumer insight and a focus on what kids are talking about and what parents want.

Other highlights of the conference were presentations from Jill Kidson, Head of Consumer Marketing at Walker Books and Laura Bijelic, Senior Consumer Insight Manager for Penguin Platform, both of whom stressed the importance of using audience/consumer insight to underpin new product development and marketing and publicity campaigns. Jill Kidson demonstrated how Walker Books had made the most of marketing a heritage brand, Guess How Much I Love You?, by focussing on sales spikes and specific calendar moments to maximise the impact of their 20th anniversary campaign. Laura Bijelic advised publishers to “get out there and meet your audience” and described how Penguin Platform was developed after much desk research and testing to define a clear target audience and vision.

Consumer Insight aside, the hot topics in children’s publishing at the moment seem to be licensing and brand management with a keyword being partnership. John Styring, Co-founder and CEO of Igloo Books, talked about both the opportunities and pitfalls of brand licensing and the National Trust and Nosy Crow announced their partnership and exciting plans for joint branded publishing. Kate Wilson, Managing Director of Nosy Crow, and Katie Bond, Publisher at the National Trust, stressed the importance of researching and understanding your publishing partner when undertaking a joint venture. For such partnerships to be successful there needs to be a mutual understanding of each party’s brand values and these need to fit.

The panel discussion on Knowing and Growing Your IP, continued on a similar theme of brand licensing but expanding on the topic of exploiting content and IP beyond traditional print publishing. The recent appointment of panel member, Katie Price, as Licensing Director at Hachette Children’s Group is perhaps demonstrative of the developing concerns of children’s publishers and their ambitions to expand on traditional publishing in order to be capable of fully exploiting important IP. Barry Cunningham (Managing Director, Chickenhouse) told publishers that if they want authors or IP owners to sign over all rights, they need to be able to demonstrate that they deserve to hold these rights and Dylan Collins (CEO, Superawesome) suggested this could be done by building capabilities internally.

The conference certainly left me with food for thought and whilst diversification and building multi-media capabilities were touted as the way of the future, many of the presentations and statistics quoted firmly reminded us that with £206.1 million spent on children’s books so far in the UK in 2015 (3.19% increase on 2014), print is still going strong in the children’s market.

If you’re interested in finding out some more facts and figures, check out the slides from the conference here.

Bookseller Childrens

Leave a Comment

Filed under Industry News & Events

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *