A Holiday Report from the Research Elves

It’s that magical time of year again, folks! You’re busy writing heartfelt cards to distant relatives you’re pretty sure are still alive. You’re breaking a sweat baking cookies and wrapping presents. You can’t find a parking space at the mall and you have no clue what Rainbow Loom is but it’s the ONLY thing the little ones want. We get it. We’re right there with you.

Lucky for you, your BNC gift has come early, in blog form! So grab some hot cocoa and then sit back, relax, and enjoy the knowledge our research elves are about to bestow upon you.

(photo of research elves courtesy of ElfYourself.)

With the 2013 holiday season in full swing, publishers and retailers alike want to know: where are parents buying books for their kids, and how much are they spending on them? Using data from a survey conducted in the spring of 2013, our hard-working elves will try to find the answer. In order to better differentiate the attitudes of parents shopping for different age brackets, we have split respondents into two groups: parents of 0–8-year-olds and parents of 9–13-year-olds. (Because there’s a big difference between a board book for a toddler and a chapter book for a 10-year-old!)

We asked parents where they most often purchase books for their kids. It turns out that parents are most likely to purchase books for their older children (9–13) at chain bookstores, while parents of younger children (0–8) are more likely to shop for books at non-book retailers. There is also a movement for parents of the older demographic to purchase through school at books fairs and book clubs, an option that is often not yet available to the younger demographic.

We followed up by asking parents if there was a discount on the last book they bought for their child. It seems that discount shopping is more common for parents of children between the ages of 0–8: 33% of these parents acknowledged that there was indeed a discount, while only 25% of parents of kids aged 9–13 responded that their purchase was discounted. Parents of younger children were also more likely to remember if there was a discount (72%) than those with older children (64%).

Next we asked how much each book purchase cost, and found that parents are spending less on books for children in our younger age bracket. However, most parents of children from both groups spent between $6 and $10 per title.

What kind of added features would entice parents to spend more on a book purchase? 36% of parents with children ages 0–8 would have spent more if the book were enhanced with sound or video. 35% of the 9–13-year-olds’ parents say they would have spent more on the book if it were bundled with the ebook edition.

How about choosing which books to buy? Parents tend to make the decision when buying for their 0–8-year-olds, whereas children ages 9–13, who read independently, more often choose their own titles. 

Unfortunately we couldn’t get any comment on these phenomena from the North Pole—but we’ll forgive him this time, it’s a busy time of year for the big man. We here at the research workshop hope that you have enjoyed this more than that fruitcake you’re trying to re-gift. If you just can’t get enough of our research, or you’re still looking for that perfect gift for the data-addict on your list, be sure to pick up a copy of our study: Measuring Attitudes and Adoption of Digital Content for Kids and Teens. Happy Holidays!