One of the pressing issues for booksellers, both physical and digital, continues to be book discovery. During an interview last week with Kobo’s Chief Content Officer Michael Tamblyn, the conversation veered to the topic just long enough to understand the steps that retailers are taking to address the issue of children’s ebook discovery.
“The other area that we’re going to be spending a lot of focus on over the next couple of months is to be looking at children’s book discovery,” explained Tamblyn as to how Kobo plans to address the issues that pertain solely to children’s and juvenile literature. “We’re very conscious of the fact that people don’t browse for children’s books in the same way that they browse for books in the adult trade. They have a different set of decision criteria when they’re trying to buy a book for their child, and children have a different set when they’re trying to buy books for themselves. We’re spending time trying to figure out, ‘What’s a good way to organize a store for a parent who’s trying to find that next great read for a child?’”
So much growth in the children’s market has had to do with getting more titles available, and Tamblyn explained that there’s a huge amount of chicken-and-egg happening in terms of parents not buying books because the books weren’t available, while publishers felt that the children’s market wasn’t viable because parents didn’t buy ebooks. According to Tamblyn, there is a litmus test for every parent who goes into a bookstore, that test being the availability of titles they expect to find when they check out the bookstore.
“Parents are getting more and more comfortable that they can put ebooks in the hands of their kids. The same behavior is also true of children and young adults who are starting to look for books themselves. However, the list of books that they’re interested in is often very different than the list of books their parents are interested in. Fortunately, publishers are seeing that it is a viable market and we’re seeing more digital rights available from the publishers, and more publishers who are interested in making sure that those digital books are available at all retailers. What we’re seeing is that publishers want the largest possible audience and the titles are becoming available.”
Parents and children alike are taking advantage of the instantaneous downloads of ebooks, especially books in a series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The benefits of a child being able to finish a book and immediately be excited to read the next book in line is increased traffic in ebooks. Parents are responding to that excitement over reading and capitalizing on their children’s interest in books, and publishers are responding by having more titles at the ready, and online retail platforms are answering the need with greater tools for ebook discovery. When asked if Kobo had plans for a dedicated marketplace or simply greater search features, Tamblyn could only state that plans are underway for increased discoverability.
“Figuring out all the nuances of both how kids and how parents of kids look for that next book is a focus of considerable interest for us right now.”