The global children's literature market has seen steady growth, projected at a CAGR of 1.4% from 2022 to 2027, reaching $12.2 billion in value. Despite a surge in sales during the pandemic, the French children's book market experienced a downturn in 2021, with a 13% decrease in volume and a 9% drop in sales compared to the previous year's significant increase. Personalized storybooks have become a notable trend, with companies like Wonderbly and Bookyboo leading the charge. Digitalization has had a profound impact, with 40% of young French people having read a digital book, and social media and online platforms influencing reading choices, with half of the youth reading the book after watching its film or series adaptation. Sales channels have shifted, with Amazon and large cultural stores taking precedence over bookshops. However, bookstores have shown resilience, with a slight increase in numbers during the pandemic years.

The French market is structured by specialist children’s publishers, with market leaders like Hachette Jeunesse and Flammarion Jeunesse, along with general publishers like Scrinéo and Seuil. Despite these trends, traditional novel genres like science fiction, adventure, and detective stories remain popular among the youth, while the reading habits of young French continue to be influenced by screen time, averaging 3 hours and 14 minutes per week on reading versus significantly more on screens and the internet. Regulations like the Lang Law and the Darcos Law have been implemented to protect book prices and independent sellers.

Analyzing the Ebb and Flow of France's Youthful Readership

Delving into the French children's book market, we discern a complex and evolving landscape that balances both traditional practices with modern shifts, especially as it rides the waves of the global digital transformation. The vitality of the market is evident through its considerable roster of publishers that cater to the youth demographic, offering a multitude of genres ranging from vibrant picture books to compelling young adult novels. France's distinct fondness for literature is reflected within its younger population, with comic books, novels, and manga leading the preference charts. In recent years, the sway towards manga has been particularly pronounced, with readership leaping from under a quarter to nearly half of the young populace. Comics too have seen a modest uptick in their following. However, novels, while maintaining a strong presence, have witnessed their stronghold wane, descending from over half to an equivalent level with manga.

The influence of digital mediums is palpable, with a significant proportion of the youth, about two-fifths, venturing into digital book consumption. The preferred device for this digital foray? Smartphones, surpassing alternative screens, which underline the intermeshing of literature and technology in daily life. This trend only swells during leisurely periods such as pre-slumber and holiday stretches.

Sales of children's publications hover impressively, with over 60 million sold in a single year, pouring over 600 million euros into the French economy, even when considering a recent downturn from a sizeable spike during the pandemic years. It's interesting to note that bookshops across France, amounting to over 2,400, demonstrate resilience amidst digital surges, remaining steadfast in the number of establishments and even ascending in employee count. French readers continue to support these literary havens, a testament to the cultural fabric of the country.

Palpable is the French government's commitment to fostering cultural access through the Pass Culture initiative, which endows 18-year-olds with a generous 300-euro cultural allowance, a move that has energized book sales. Interestingly, the digital realm also funnels readers towards physical books, with series and film adaptations inspiring half of the younger crowd to pick up the original text post-viewing.

The industry is speckled with specialist and generalist publishers alike, with some boasting sales figures stretching into the hundreds of millions, underscoring the vitality and competitive nature of this segment. Despite this prosperity, authors' earnings remain relatively marginal, with their cut of a book's sale price dwarfed.

Key Players in the French Children’s Book Market

The French children’s book market is a vibrant and dynamic arena where several key publishers and brands stand out, each contributing unique content to the world of children's literature. Their offerings range from the classic to the contemporary, catering to the diverse interests of young readers across France.

Gallimard Jeunesse stands as a titan in children’s publishing, known for its prestigious collection of literary works that include both timeless classics and modern tales. With iconic series like J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" under their banner, they continue to be a favorite among young readers and parents alike.

Talents Hauts is notable for its commitment to offering literature that challenges traditional gender roles, presenting stories that promote equality and reflect diverse experiences. As a specialist in children's print and educational material, they are carving a niche market that focuses on progressive themes.

Flammarion Jeunesse, another giant in the sector, offers a vast array of titles that span across all children's genres. Their catalogue boasts a rich mixture of storybooks, educational texts, and well-loved series that engage young minds and foster a love for reading.

Hachette Jeunesse remains one of the most influential players with a strong presence in the children's literature market. Their portfolio includes a wide variety of titles for children and young adults, ensuring that they have a book to suit every interest and reading level.

Bayard/Milan seamlessly blends entertainment with education, providing young readers with books that are both informative and engaging. Their well-crafted narratives are designed to teach as well as tell stories, making them a staple in many young learners’ collections.

Auzou has earned acclaim with its delightful picture books and educational titles that cater to the youngest of readers. Their colorful and engaging books are designed to capture the imagination and stimulate the learning journey from an early age.

L’École des Loisirs is a distinguished name that consistently delivers quality children's books and has become synonymous with educational excellence and creativity. Their focus on cultivating a passion for literature makes them a go-to publisher for parents and educators.

Editis, which features a broad spectrum of literature from various imprints, has made significant contributions to children's literature. They emphasize the importance of nurturing young readers by providing a rich selection of books that appeal to different tastes and interests.

Fleurus is recognized for its beautifully illustrated books and titles that range from religious content to general storytelling.

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  • Last update : 16/03/2023
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition

Children's literature is a genre of literature aimed primarily at children and young adults, generally up to the age of 18. Books for children and young adults are often written with vocabulary and grammatical structure adapted to their age and developmental level, and are often illustrated to help young readers understand the content.

Children's literature can include different genres such as illustrated albums, children's novels, teen novels, comic books, activity books and educational books. Stories can be based on reality or be fantastical, and can deal with themes such as friendship, family, personal growth, adventure, history, science fiction, romance, dystopia and more.

The aim of children's literature is to awaken the imagination and interest of young readers, to offer them moments of pleasure and emotion, and to encourage them to develop their reading skills. It is also a means of teaching important life lessons and encouraging critical thinking in young people.

Worldwide, the children's literature market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1.4% over the period 2022-2027. In France, the children's book market exploded during the pandemic: +19% between 2020 and 2021. Young French people are still reading as much as ever, even if new trends are emerging with the digitalization of society: books are no longer necessarily physical, and the desire to read is emerging more and more after watching a series or film.

France is home to dozens of publishing houses, providing a varied range of children's books that are renewed every year.

1.2 The global children's book market

According to The Business Research Company, the market for children's and teen books is expected to grow at a CAGR of *.*% over the period ****-****, reaching $**.* billion in **** (***).

sales trends in the children's book market World, ****-****, in billions of dollars

Publishers are increasingly offering personalized storybooks that allow children's names ...

1.3 The national children's book market

According to a Gfk study, more than ** million children's books were sold in France in ****. The children's book segment represents a significant share of the book market, with sales of ***.* million euros in November ****. However, compared to ****, this figure is clearly down, with a **% drop in volume and a *% drop in ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 What young French people read

Young French people (***). Novels lost the most readers, dropping from **% to **%.

Book genres read by young French people France, ****-****, in Source: ****

It is possible to refine these results by age group. For example, primary school, junior high and high school students read differently. Primary and secondary school pupils prefer comic ...

2.2 Novels remain popular with young French people

Within the "novels" category, science fiction and fantasy books (***) are the most popular among French *-** year-olds. These are also the novel categories with the strongest growth since ****.

Types of novel most read by young French readers France, ****-****, in Source: ****

2.3 Young French people's relationship with reading

There are many reasons why young French people don't read or read less. The digitalization of society plays a major role in the decline in reading time: on average, *-** year-olds read * hours ** minutes a week, but spend * hours ** minutes a day in front of a screen, and * hours ** minutes on ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Where to buy children's books and the culture pass

According to an Ipsos survey entitled "Les jeunes Français et la lecture" (***), most children's books are purchased on the Amazon website or in large cultural stores such as Fnac, Espace Culturel Leclerc or Cultura. Bookshops only come third.

Places where young French people buy books France, ****, in Source: ****

The creation ...

3.2 Digitalization and the Internet's influence on children's literature

More and more young people (***) are influenced in their reading choices by social networks and the Internet more generally. For example: many Youtube influencers will recommend - whether paid or not - educational books, novels etc., which will help the book in question to gain notoriety. What's more, in the age ...

3.3 Bookshops in France

We wanted to study the number of bookshops in France, as well as the number of employees. To do this, we used NAF code **.**Z: Retail sale of books in specialized stores. This code covers bookshops in general, without taking into account Fnac-type stores, for example, or superstores that also sell ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 The most popular children's books

In ****, the ten most popular children's books were the following:

Source: ****

Note that **% of the books were written by French authors, **% by an American (***) and **% by two British writers.

4.2 Book price breakdown

According to the Librinova articleamong the various players involved in children's books, the bookseller receives **.*% of the book's sale price, more than * times as much as the author (***).

Average breakdown of a book's selling price France, ****, in The average selling price of a book is estimated at ** euros. Source: ****

Authors' share ...

4.3 The trend towards reading on digital media

The digitalization of society has not spared the children's book sector. Many publishers, initially sceptical about the idea of reading on a screen, have now embraced this new market. There are many e-readers on the market (***), and the market is growing rapidly. [***]

The market for e-books and audio books

The children's ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Regulations

Book economics concerns the economic aspects of book production, publishing, distribution and marketing. Players such as authors, publishers, bookshops and private and public libraries interact in a competitive market with sometimes divergent interests. Over the years, new distributors and distribution methods have emerged, leading legislators to adapt the laws governing the ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Segmentation of players in the children's book market

List of charts

  • The market for children's and teenagers' books
  • Publishing market share
  • Publishing houses with more than five children's titles a year
  • Average breakdown of a book's selling price
  • Where young French people buy books
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Latest news

Board games: Hachette acquires Catch Up Games - 05/06/2023
  • Acquisition of Gigamic in 2019
  • Acquisition of Hiboutatillus (creator of Blanc Manger Coco) in 2021
  • Acquisition of La Boîte de Jeu (Au Creux de ta Main, Cerbère...) in 2022
  • Acquisition of a majority stake in French publisher Catch Up Games, founded in 2014
  • 20 games in the Catch Up Games catalog (e.g. Sobek 2 players, Cubirds, The Loop)
  • 8th studio to join Hachette Boardgames thanks to acquisition of Catch Up Games
  • Catch Up Games joins Funnyfox, Studio H, Sorry We Are French, Le Scorpion Masqué, Hiboutatillus, La Boîte de jeu and Gigamic within Hachette Boardgames
Hachette launches metavers, a publishing first - 01/06/2023
  • Hachette is the French leader and number three worldwide in publishing (excluding the professional sector).
  • Hachette to acquire a stake in French start-up PowerZ in summer 2021
  • The launch of PowerZ's educational game project, which aims to become the "Fortnite of education"
  • Around ten Hachette publishing houses, mainly focused on the youth segment, are working or will be working with PowerZ
  • The metaverse developed jointly by Hachette and PowerZ is entitled "Beyond the pages" and is freely accessible.
  • Two works featured in the metaverse are "Panique dans la Mythologie" by Fabien Clavel and "Le Dernier Ours" by Charlotte Bousquet.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Gallimard Jeunesse
Flammarion Jeunesse
Fleurus Editions
Hachette Jeunesse

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