The potential of children's e-books was the subject of Digital Book World panel on Tuesday, which combined the findings of the recently released study, called "Understanding the Children's Book Consumer in the Digital Age," on the habits and trends of e-book reading in children and a Q&A with industry experts.
One of the key takeaways from the study was that the most important factor in an e-book purchase of children's books is the child telling the parent to buy, with discoverability in the bookstore the second most important factor. Combined, these two factors equal a child telling a parent to buy when the child discovers the book in the bookstore, the most common factor in purchasing, surpassing other factors like price and parent trust of the author, which were also big factors.
Lori Benton, v-p and publisher, trade publishing at Scholastic, said one of the most important factors for children when reading is choice, stating that kids are more confident if they can choose what they read.
One of the focuses of the study was the relationship between parents and children when it came to reading, and the study found that the technology gap between the two is small, though kids may be more interested in digital than parents. 75% of parents in the study said they have not yet bought an e-book, which means they would be unlikely to first buy an e-book for their children, but 56% of parents said they would likely buy an e-book in the near future. One of the main parental concerns, the study found, was that reading on a device rather than in a physical book might cause focusing problems in the child, and that parents were worried about their child's "screen time," and all of the other distractions a device might pose.
But perhaps the most eye-opening facet of the study came in regard to how great the potential for e-book reading in children really is. A number of figures showed promise for the future of the market, including that in children ages seven to 12, 27% own their own computer, 25% own a cell phone, and 7% own a reading device. Equally promising is the figure from the study that teens have tripled their reading rate of e-books in the last year. Furthermore, the growing interest in children for technology and the waning parental hesitancy to adopt technology is expected to drastically shift in the favor of e-books, contingent upon one big factor, according to Diane Naughton, v-p of marketing for HarperCollins Children's Books: the adoption of digital devices by schools. Once schools begin using e-books in the classroom, Naughton said, "Expect to see the percentages drastically change."