The market for children’s books is potentially huge. Still, most authors approach this enormous opportunity by trying to sell their books through bookstores (bricks and clicks). Instead of competing with all the other books there, seek sales in non-bookstore segments. Listed below are examples of these prospective buyers. This is by no means an exhaustive list but is meant to stimulate your thinking to find new places in which to sell.
Daycare centers could purchase books to read to the children and/or to resell to the parents. Desirable forms and topics include board books, activity books, coloring books, books with puzzles, fiction and non-fiction on many topics. Books in Spanish and bi-lingual books may sell well here, too. Books on religious subjects sell well to the pre-school centers run by churches.
- For a listing of all childcare centers by state go to http://www.kinderstart.com/educationdaycarechildcare/childcarecenters/statelistings/inex.html
- National Daycare Centers such as KinderCare Learning Centers – 650 NE Holladay Street, Suite 1400, Portland, OR 97232; 800-633-1488; Website: http://www.kindercare.com/home.php3 and La Petite Academy, with 725 academies nationwide; Tel: 800 La Petite (800.527.3848) and website: lapetite.com/
- Education/Daycare/Childcare Advocacy Groups/Organizations: http://www.kinderstart.com/educationdaycarechildcare/advocacygroupsorganizations.html
- For a list of over 150 sites with relevant child-education information and book-sales opportunities go to: http://www.kinderstart.com/educationdaycarechildcare/educationgeneralinformation.html
- Primrose Schools Offers child care and preschool programs for children 6 weeks to 5 years old, primroseschools.com/
- A Safer Start Child University is the only childcare facility in Rhode Island with web cameras so parents can watch their children online through a protected username and password. A Safer Start also has a strong emphasis on education through our unique learning centers SaferStart.com
- com – Innovative Products for Church Nurseries
Church Nursery provides Child Safety products and ideas to help run a successful Christian day care center. Our Nursery Labels are great for fast check in procedures and work with Digital Number Boards in Church or Nursery Paging Systems.
Sell to Parents
Parents are always looking for new or better ways to bring up or deal their children. The children’s age groups range from babies to young adult. A high-interest topic in this category is helping a child deal with bullying. The military is a good segment for parenting books. For example, how to make new friends when the child moves every few years, or how to deal with the death of a parent. Some general topics include positive discipline, nurture your child’s developing mind, sibling rivalry, how separated and divorced parents can raise happy and secure kids, and potty training.
- Hedgehog Online Children’s Bookstore is the brainchild of teachers who passionately believe that reading aloud to children will set them on a life-long journey of learning and exploration. Their teacher reviews will help parents choose the best books for their children. The website includes grade level reading lists: http://www.hedgehogbooks.com/
- The Readers Digest Foundation promotes the benefits of parent involvement in childhood literacy. Now operating out of more than 200 command posts and USOs around the world. Website: www.unitedthroughreading.org
- Parenting 101 is a hub of insight, perspective, research, recommendations, and stories that speak to what it means to raise children in the modern world. Website: https://www.parenting101.com/)
- Baby-Place.com is “your starting point for information related to pregnancy, birth and babies.” Website: https://baby-place.com/
Children’s Museums and Libraries
Gift stores in children’s museums seek books that extend the guest experience. They typically prefer hardcover books and price is generally not an obstacle to purchase. Demonstrate that your content was well researched and current. For distribution to this segment contact Event Network, Inc. Purchasing Department 1010 Turquoise St., Ste. 325 San Diego, CA 92109; Website: https://www.eventnetwork.com/ Books for children’s libraries range from board books to young adult. Picture books and bi-lingual books sell well here. Baker and Taylor is a top wholesaler to libraries. Here are sources of potential buyers if you choose to contact them directly:
- The Association for Library Service to Children is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/
- For a list of public libraries with stand-alone libraries serving children go to Website: http://www.ala.org/tools/children’s-libraries
- Find a list of children’s museums at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_children%27s_museums_in_the_United_States
There are many ways in which an association could purchase your books in large, nonreturnable quantities. They could place it in their online bookstore such as that on the website for the American Academy of Pediatrics (https://shop.aap.org/publications/books/). They could use it as a fundraiser or hire you as a speaker and resell your book to attendees at the meeting. The membership chair could use your book as a premium for people who join or renew their memberships. You could also align your business with the association under the terms of cause marketing. The Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (https://www.jpma.org/default.aspx) lists companies that provide products for children sold through retail stores. A company making baby furniture, for example, could buy your books and provide them to retailers carrying their products to give to people who purchase them. A quick Google search will reveal many associations related to your content and most have a page with the contact information for the associations board members and staff. Here are two examples:
- Parent-Teachers Associations. For a list of them by state go to: http://www.kinderstart.com/educationdaycarechildcare/pta.html
- The International Moms Club (https://momsclub.org/store/ ) is the first, largest and fastest growing support group specifically for ALL at-home mothers.
The approval process for getting your books into public schools can be daunting, and typically state by state. Use these resources to get your books in front of teachers to shorten the process. If you can get an association to approve or recommend your book it can add volumes to your credibility.
- Display-marketing companies such as Collective Goods (formerly Books Are Fun) buy large, non-returnable quantities of books and gifts directly from publishers at discounts up to 80%. Then they sell the directly to consumers through displays at the buyer’s locations (schools, corporations, daycare centers). Website: http://www.collectivegoods.com
- National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators http://www.naecte.org has a list of related organization adding more prospects to your sales funnel: https://naecte.org/about/related-organizations/
- National Education Association is America’s oldest and largest organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Website: http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/december-holidays-k-5.html#BOOKS
- ChildFun has been the leader in educational resources for parents, teachers, childcare providers for more than 15 years. Website: http://www.childfun.com
- Barclay School Supplies is one of the oldest and largest vendors of educational and classroom materials in the country. Website: http://www.barclayschoolsupplies.com
- S&S Worldwide provides educational classroom supplies and materials. Website: https://www.ssww.com/index.php
- For a list of children’s book awards (including Caldecott, Children’s Literature Legacy, Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media, Geisel, Newbery, Odyssey and Sibert awards). Website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia
- ALA Recommended Reading for Children. Get your book listed. Website: https://libguides.ala.org/recommended-reading/children
- For “a collection of reviews of great books for kids, ideas of ways to use them in the classroom and collections of books and activities about particular subjects, curriculum areas, themes and professional topics” go to this website: https://carolhurst.com
- Kids Reviewing Books. At LitPick, kids review books for free. Each book and review is looked over by an adult to ensure quality. It’s offered free to authors and it gets kids to read and write more in a real-world setting Website: https://litpick.com/page/litpick-book-review-request-form
- Find a list of children’s book clubs at http://www.bookclubdeals.com/index.php?action=1&idcat=175
- Discovery Toys Catalog “is at the forefront of bringing educational, kid-powered learning products that are based on pure PLAY to market.” Website: discoverytoys.net
Children may recommend books, but the parents buy them. Give them reasons to buy yours on broadcast media and reach specific target segments through Let’s Talk Adoption, a podcast for adoptive parents. Website: http://www.letstalkadoption.com/ Find radio shows in any zip code in the United States and Canada, listing the show format, on this website www.radio-locator.com
- Lori’s Gifts is the nation’s largest provider of hospital gift shop outsourcing solutions, we focus on providing a custom gift shop experience. Website: http://www.lorisgifts.com
- Learning Express. Books on science, nature, arts and more, listed by age and interest. http://www.learningexpress.com/
- Fat Brain Toys has stores and a catalog. Website: https://www.fatbraintoys.com/toys/toy_categories/books/
- Lakeshore has “a wide variety of kids’ books—from paperback fiction classics to super-engaging leveled nonfiction libraries! Plus, shop audio books for kids to read along with and board books for little learners.” The site has a list of all store locations. Website: https://www.lakeshorelearning.com/products/books/N/3890140476/page-1/sort-best/num-24/loc-061?view=grid
Educational Toy stores – Online
Some of these may require a distributor, but many purchase directly form the publisher. Typical retail discounts and terms apply.
- Mindware for “brainy toys for kids of all ages” has a category devoted to books. Website: https://www.mindware.orientaltrading.com/
- com: Educational Toys & Learning Toys for Kids is a “resource for educational (books) toys, toys for education and learning toys for kids and children that engage and entertain.” Website: https://www.mindware.orientaltrading.com
- Find a list of educational toy stores – many of which sell books. Website: http://www.schools-oman.com/educatlinks/ed_toys.htm
- Educational Books provides a directory of wholesalers with thousands of other wholesale suppliers, manufacturers, and vendors. Website: https://www.fgmarket.com/Education/Educational-Books
The Academic Market
In Book Selling University course BSU – 109: Selling to Schools, Sharon Castlen tells why and how to sell to all levels of schools, school libraries and colleges & universities. Find new sources of book sales in untapped markets for higher profits and limited returns. Website: https://booksellinguniversity.com/
Once you view that course you may choose to contact K-12 public schools directly, if for no other reason than to arrange to read your book there. There is a site that provides information to tailor the content of your books as well as your sales approach, demonstrating the benefits of your title over their current text. Visit it to learn industry jargon, such as the use of the terms beginning readers, emergent readers or reluctant readers. Website: http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/
There are academic options other than public schools in which to sell your children’s books, such as these:
- Homeschooling is a large and growing opportunity for selling books including a list of organizations that serve the homeschool community at a national level. These links will take you to pages for every state. http://www.homeschoolcentral.com/support/index.htm with statewide information, regional information, and support groups. Website: http://www.homeschoolcentral.com/hsorg.htm
- Military Homeschool Support information may be found here: Website: http://www.homeschoolcentral.com/support/military_homeschool.htm
- NATHHAN (NATional cHallenged Homeschoolers Associated Network) Newsletter and other resources for families with children who have special developmental or physical needs. Website: http://www.nathhan.com
- The North American Montessori Teachers’ Association is a membership organization open to parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in Montessori education. There is has a shop on their website: (http://www.montessori-namta.org/
- Government Schools. The education system operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) serves the children of men and women in the armed services who are stationed in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific. DoDEA; 4040 N. Fairfax Dr., Webb Bldg., Arlington, VA 22203 Tel: 703-588-3104; Website: www.dodea.edu A current list of DoDEA schools may be obtained by writing the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, Hoffman I, Rm. 152, 2461 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, VA 22331.
- See places to sell books for children of grade school age on this website: http://www.kinderstart.com/shopping/books/index.html
- Bountiful Books (https://www.bountiful-books.net/index.html ) is a children’s boo distributor of fiction and non-fiction books for schools and libraries from Pre-School to High School.
- American Reading Company for the Common Core State Standards https://www.americanreading.com/products/ccss-libraries/) for “reading acquisition with a deep knowledge of the demands of literature and informational text for students in Grades PreK through 12. Our leveled classroom collections are built from an extensive database of every book in Spanish for K-12 (https://www.americanreading.com/products/spanish/) , from US as well as international publishers, to reflect the richness and diversity of the Spanish language and Spanish-speaking cultures.”
- The APSS/JetBlue children’s book giveaway (http://www.soarwithreading.com ). JetBlue is placing vending machines that dispense new, free books for kids aged 0 – 14. Kids are allowed to take as many books as they are interested in – no strings attached. Currently the vending machines are in Washington DC and Ft. Lauderdale, but they are looking to expand to four other cities: Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
- “Finding the right book distributor can be overwhelming… If you want people to find your title on the shelves of your local bookstore, you need a distributor. And depending on your genre, some might be better for you than others.” Discover a list of print book distributors here: https://blog.reedsy.com/list-of-print-book-distributors/.
Visit https://thejohnfox.com/2016/03/children-book-publishers/ for a list of children’s book publishers that are accepting submissions directly from authors
Depending on your book’s content, conduct a Google search on these topics for names of people to contact at companies, organizations and more.
Companies offering services to families for showers
Stores selling baby supplies
Education Development Centers
Pediatric Support Services
Big Brothers groups
Foster Parents Associations
Families & Work Institutes
Children’s Hospitals – in addition to the gits shop there, create a library for nurses and parents to read to the kids
Web Forums and Communities
Sites for Stay-at-home Dads and Moms
Nannies and Au Pairs
Talented and Gifted Programs
As you can see, breaking down the mass market makes it much more manageable. It also saves you time and makes your marketing efforts more economical, because you end up only targeting the people who might be interested in your book. If you apply the ideas behind each of these examples to your own title, the non-trade mass market will not seem quite so intimidating.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org), and the founder of Book Selling University (www.booksellinguniversity.com). He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. Brian offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com
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