A recent study by Bowker has found that among children, there has been a marked decline in bookstore and library influence as a source of recommendation and acquisition, and that many purchases are instead migrating online to vendors like Amazon. The study is part of Bowker’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age study.
Friends and family overtook bookstore browsing and libraries as the top influencers, painting the picture of the children’s book market as a highly local word-of-mouth economy. The erosion of libraries and bookstores may be misleading, though, as Gretchen Caserotti of the Darien Public Library used a case study involving Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm, which Caserotti said the library system recommended to the local school systems, and that based on the library’s recommendation (and a local award for the book), the school system widely assigned the book in classrooms. When asked how they heard about Grimm, students would most often respond that they heard of it through friends, even though the book was largely implemented because of the push of the library.
The Bowker study had some surprises: most notably 84% of YA books were purchased by consumers 18 or older – and a full 35% of YA books were bought by consumers aged 18-29, by far the largest demographic. The second-largest demographic was age 30-44; within that segment, dispelling the notion that the YA books are gifts or purchases for teens, fully 80% of respondents reported “they bought the book for themselves.”
In all areas of media use with the exception of video games, girls outpaced boys, both in terms of behavior and in their willingness to engage in discussion.
On the topic of digital, a surprising shift back to print was seen since spring 2012, and for the year e-book adoption growth was flat among teens, with some evidence that teens are like print more in the fall than they did in the spring. One possible reason for this, according to Bookigee CEO Kristen McLean, who presented the results of the report at the Children's Publishing Goes Digital conference put on by Publishers Launch on Tuesday, could be the “shininess” wearing off new devices and, as people become accustomed to what digital can offer, they are making more nuanced decisions regarding reading habits.