Last week at The Bookseller’s Children’s conference, some interesting movement in the industry was highlighted. With the introduction of most trade books now being available in ebook format, it was perhaps assumed that the young generation would be the first to make use of the fact we can now read books on our tablets, phones and other electronic devices. I mean, it fits doesn’t it? Teens are attached to technology, they love to browse Facebook in-between classes, to quickly download a song on the go. So, ebooks are great, right?
Apparently not, the new generation have defied the stereotype, gone against the grain, and at the Children’s Conference last Tuesday night it was stated that the work of children’s and young adult publishing houses continued to be as vital as ever. For the kids, it looks like ebooks are out, and old fashioned reading is back on.
So, why is this? Why has Digital affected children’s books less? Egmont’s managing director, Cally Poplak, spoke at the conference and exclaimed:
“Digital has impacted the world of publishing but not as I imagined it. 75% of children want their favourite stories and content in print form”
Interestingly, I think this has a lot more to do with image than the actual idea of the ebook. The conference highlighted that children and teens prefer to have their favourite books in their hands, and I feel like this strongly has something to do with the association that comes from reading and the books you’re seen to be reading. Whereas an adult might prefer the cheaper option of digital books, and the option to hide the identity of books they might not want to be seen reading in public, a young reader may be far more likely to receive a book as a gift or buy books to take into school for reading and to share with friends. In an age where ‘the teenager with the iPhone’ is around every corner, do you think it is possible that they might find solace and admiration in reading a physical book which will tell the world that they are immersing in the traditional book format?
What is it that attracts a young reader to a physical book? What are they telling people through their book choice? Can books tell us something about the reader? These are all unanswered questions, but what I do think is that reading a physical book might show that a child:
- Can engage confidently with literature
- Can concentrate and produce critical opinions on the material they are reading
- Can use books to improve their memory and vocabulary
There is no doubt that Digital is on the rise in the publishing industry, but just for this moment, it seems like the children’s market still has many loyal customers in print. Does this mean that the new generation are continuing to ensure the success of print in the publishing industry? These sets of figures were a pleasant surprise to the Children’s publishing sector, and by children continuing to buy or be bought their favourite books in the print, they will continue to show that books are not dead, and nor should they be.