Last week, Kobo released news of a study it had supported aimed at discovering where the growth in children’s digital content was coming from. The report, based on survey results from Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) Media Inc., showed an exponential growth in children’s ebook consumption just in the last three years, with Kobo’s children’s sales increasing tenfold in that time and the American Publisher’s Association stating a 200% increase in children’s sales.
This is a far cry from the continuing reports that some surveys have supported, namely, that parents initially and to some extent still want their children to experience print reading. Kobo‘s Chief Content Officer, Michael Tamblyn, spoke to GoodEReader about what drives this increase.
“Now we see the demands for children’s ebooks, especially in the summer when parents are trying to preserve the skills that their kids have developed,” explained Tamblyn. “The combination of portability and affordability is important.”
“There are two opposing forces at work when we look at children reading on devices. On the one hand, we saw a rise of multi-purpose, mixed utility devices like tablets, meaning you can put a device in a child’s hands that allows them to read, but also to do all of the other things that they want to do. And as the prices of tablets come down, the likelihood that a parent will put one of those in a child’s hands increases. As the devices become more affordable, we’ll continue to see more of that.
“On the other hand, there is that challenge that every parent faces of thinking, ‘If I give my child a device, are they going read, or do other things that I’m less supportive of.’ And that’s one of the places where we see increased uptake in devices like e-readers that have a much more narrow range of focus functionality, specifically around reading. That’s another place where bringing down the price and increasing the affordability, we’re seeing many more parents put those in children’s hands.”
Tamblyn pointed to both the affordability and the increased portability of device reading, as more and more parents support the ability to offer their children their entire libraries of books to choose from while on the go over the summer months. These factors, coupled with the reduced fear of damage to an overly-expensive device, have opened up e-reading in ways that did not take off for young readers when e-readers were still so expensive.
Like platforms such as Scholastic’s Storia summer challenge and Barnes and Noble’s summer reading challenge, Kobo has increased some marketing specifically in the range of children’s genres, and will continue to grow that for consumers throughout the summer.
“As far as summer reading goes, we have a constant series of promotions and pricing that we’ll be expanding through the summer months,” he explained, while mentioning a larger focus on ebooks and devices for the fall when school will resume. Children’s book discovery will be a major focus for Kobo in the coming months as well, as there is a recognition that people do not browse for children’s books in the same way that they seek out their own reading materials.