This was a Facebook post from a popular Queensland parenting magazine that I stumbled across late last week:
“I have just been talking to a major publishing house that shared there is currently no interest by Australian parents to buy eBooks for their kids.”
Interesting thought, don’t you think?
The term ‘digital native’ is being thrown around quite a bit lately, and let’s face it, the current generation of kids are absolutely growing up in a digital world. It’s undeniable.
Looking back on my schooling versus that of my children, I can easily see the differences. In the mid-to-late 90’s, computing studies was a elective/optional subject for high school students; not everyone chose it as a study option and many of those who did figured it’d be an easy option (which it was). During my computing studies classes I was being taught how to touch-type, simple word processing and spreadsheet programs, and progressed only to cover the basics of ‘desktop publishing’ aka Microsoft Powerpoint.
Fast forward to 2013, and our 9 year old uses an interactive smartboard in class, an iPad for more structured one-on-one learning, has the option to submit assignments via email, and is encouraged to participate with his teacher and fellow classmates on the class blog from home. Similarly, high school students are learning programming, coding, website design, SEO, social networking and the list goes on. Kids now download textbooks and study supplements and carry them around not as bulky heavy books in a backpack but as another book on the digital bookshelf of their chosen eReader.
Interesting too is the role of parents in this changing technological climate. As Generation X parents, we too are relatively tech-savvy with many of us living and working in the digital age. From smartphones and apps, banking, online job applications, social networking, and online shopping, it’s fair to say that Gen X’ers are adapting (albeit sometimes struggling to stay on top) to the new digital age.
With the internet and all it’s nuances, come the digital tools and gadgets that make it all possible. Gen X are shown to be willing to invest and spend in these tools; make that Gen X’er a parent and suddenly, you’ve got someone willing to palm out cash on any device, app, ebook, and program that will ensure their child’s wellbeing: this obviously includes iPads and eBook readers.
Are the current generation of kids ‘digital natives’? You better believe it!
So, why would a major publishing house infer that there is no desire nor market for kids eBooks? Surely the writing is on the wall (no pun intended!).
In the very foreseeable future, ebooks and ereaders will be these kids default (as opposed to physical books). Whilst it may not be at it’s peak or particularly prevalent right now, the digital framework is already firmly in place to capture these kids in the coming years.
Certainly, recent figures support this theory; the Association of American Publishers says eBook sales growth in 2012 grew by a modest 34%, while Children’s Book sales grew by almost 300%.
Similarly, according to research conducted by The Reading Agency, half of all parents surveyed believe that electronic devices actually make their kids read more, due to the appeal of ereader devices.
Still think there’s no room for kids ebooks? Think again, if the current growth stats are anything to go by, this is a category and genre that is merely in it’s infancy.
Read more about the genre growth at: http://bookpal.bizsnippets.com/article/do-you-want-to-know-the-fastest-growing-book-genre-for-ebook-sales-in-2012