eBooks Are Taking Over…Eventually
- April 14th, 2011
- 1 Comments
Kids get all sorts of hand-me-downs. Clothes, shoes, and even e-readers, as Mom and Dad upgrade to newer, more powerful devices. With a growing number of tweens, teens, and collegians toting these devices with them in their backpacks, it’s no surprise that publishers are beginning to see a fundamental shift in sales to e-books. Now that kids are getting their hands on e-readers, the same bump in sale is happening for children’s and YA e-books. Readers (young and old) haven’t abandoned print, but they are enjoying the convenience of digital reading. Just recently, Steig Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo became the first e-book to top 1 million in sales.
So it’s all about the Kindle then, right? Wrong. Students are twice as likely to say they want a tablet (such as an iPad) rather than an e-reader, according to a recent Ypulse Report on technology. Girls would prefer to have a tablet, but they are more open than boys to owning an e-reader. Girls may be more likely than boys to see value in a dedicated device for digital reading because they are more prolific readers than boys.
For now, publishers are focusing on e-readers, and they’re producing ebooks for a wide range of devices. Nickelodeon launched a collection of Spongebob and Dora the Explorer ebooks exclusively on Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Sesame Street has an ebook app for the iPad with 150 titles. And if you think it’s a little crazy to offer children’s books for the iPad, think again. Parents happily hand over their devices to their children and use them together to read. That may be why Toys “R” Us is getting ready to sell iPads in stores in the near future.
Everything sounds rosy in the world of e-books — sales are up and kids are excited about reading — but it’s not perfect. There are competing file formats for different devices, and there’s the problem of piracy. Just like P2P networks pose a problem to record companies, they are an issue for publishers as well. Digital books are cheaper to print and deliver than physical books, yet they often cost more, which doesn’t make e-book readers very happy. And e-books being “durable” — never dog-eared or worn out — some publishers want library editions of ebooks to expire after a certain number of checkouts.
There are also interesting innovations on the horizon. Also taking a cue from the music industry, 24 Symbols, currently in beta, is attempting to provide a streaming book service for its members with options for cheaper, ad-supported accounts and a premium model that is ad-free. Think Spotify for books instead of music.
We’ll see how publishers and readers sort out these challenges in the next few years, but it’s certain that digital books are catching on with kids from pre-school to college.