There’s been concern in publishing and education that the book is dead in this time of proliferating screens. Do kids still read anything longer than an Instagram caption or text message? Research by Dubit finds that reading is well loved, and print is very much alive. The challenge for publishers is guiding young people to their titles in a tsunami of content.
Kids like to read: our survey found that the majority of children say they “can’t get enough” or that they love books when they have time. Substantial numbers of kids read daily. However, few children in our survey read e-books daily, and many say they never read on a digital platform (see chart, p. 25). This bears watching for confirmation or shifts.
Perhaps surprisingly, when they read, 70% of young people either “strongly prefer” or “tend to prefer” print books (see chart on right). One possible reason for this preference is that half of the children surveyed said they get book recommendations from friends. An e-book is harder to share than a hard copy.
With our research showing kids increasingly focused on tablets, though, publishers have a challenge. On a tablet, everything’s just a Home button away; e-books compete directly with games, apps, videos, social media, and communication. Print copies, moreover, need to entice the child to put down the tablet and pick up the book (not to mention having to order print books online or purchase them in stores, compared to the ease of downloading digital editions). But as far as buying patterns, our survey showed that children and parents bought many more print books than e-books over a three-month period (see chart, above).
Discovery is critical, and your earliest adopters are your biggest evangelists. Encourage and help them to share the love—that’s how you reach the tipping point of a long, sustainable life.
(This survey was conducted in September–October 2015 with 1,000 families in four countries.)
Kids Prefer Print
Family Book-Buying Habits
Reading Frequency: Digital Books
David Kleeman is senior v-p of global trends at Dubit, a U.K.-based research firm.