Get Digi With It

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digital2Literacy used to look like a child sitting with a book in his or her hands.  Recently, however, literacy has acquired a new look.

More young children are learning to read not from a printed book but rather on a table, electronic reader or even a smartphone. This phenomenon presents an opportunity for authors because these flourishing platforms have a growing need for children’s e-books.

These trends have been analyzed in the recent report “What a Difference a Year Makes: Kids and E-Reading Trends  2012-2013. The report focuses on parental attitudes regarding the benefits of e-books. The report was compiled by family centered consumer product company PlayScience (the research arm of Play-Collective) and Digital Book World, a consumer publish resource.  An online survey was conducted in October, 2013, of 603 U.S. adults who have children ages 2-13 who read digital books in their households.

The most important finding: Children’s e-reading continues to grow sharply, with two-thirds of children 13 and under now reading digital books; 92 percent of those kids do so at least once a week. That translates into a potential consumer base of 36 million U.S. children.  In addition, nearly half of those children read digitally every day.  Does this mean children are reading more because of e-books, or are they simply switching from print to electronic forms? digital

J. Alison Bryant, president and founder of PlayCollective, thinks the answer is the former.  ” There is certainly some move to electronic forms, but overall it seems to be addictive,” she says.  Cindy Loh, publishing director for Bloomsbury Children’s USA, explains the versatility of ebooks: “There are more of them available since the rise of e-books.  In digital, books can really be tailored to the readership without print production and inventory costs, so the reader who loves dystopian can keep reading dystopian stories long after the bulk of the print industry has moved on to another genre.  Publications schedules are much more flexible for digital, too.  Production timelines for digital are shorter, and publishers now have the possibility to release all  books in a series within a year.  E-books have also opened up the market for novellas and prequel stories that would have been more challenging to publish in print.”

The report also reveals that children want both print and e-book versions of the same title.  The study offers two reasons for this: It could be that children view each as separate and unique reading experiences, or it may be that they enjoy a book so much that they want to be able to access it at all times and in multiple formats.

The other major finding of the report is that parents who grew up with print books are learning to embrace digital books for their children. The study shows that a majority of parents surveyed feel that e-books can motivate their children to read more or to become better readers, improve their children’s reading abilities and reduce the amount of time their children spend with other media.

Digital children’s books, now in increasing demand, provide a new pathway to publication for aspiring writers.  But any enhancements must be constructed upon the never-antiquated foundation of a strong narrative.

Original by Dale McGarrigle

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