Ask A Reader: How do teens find new reads?

We’ve reviewed the questions submitted during our Ask A Reader campaign and realized that some of the answers could be found in recent research we’ve already conducted. Huzzah! So we’ve taken to the blog to share some of that data, which you’ll find in a series of posts over the next few weeks. Last week: at what age do kids choose their own books?

Q: How do teenagers discover new books?

Back in 2013, we asked children and teens about their book-buying and reading habits and published the results in our Measuring Attitudes and Adoption of Digital Content for Kids and Teens study.

Teens are often influenced by multiple factors when choosing a book to read. Most of the time (45%), discovery of new books comes in the form of in-person interactions, usually a recommendation from a friend or relative (26%). Teens also find out about books they read through school (33%), the library (15%), and receiving them as gifts (13%).

It’s interesting to note that results for teens deviate from what we found in an earlier consumer research study on adult buying behaviour. With adults, we found that most in-person discoveries occur in stores, usually by seeing a book on a shelf/display (22%) or interacting with a sales clerk (18%). Recommendations from friends and relatives only came into play 12% of the time among adults.1 That being said, teens in this study were only asked about the book they most recently read, which would account for some of the difference.

Online and print media also play a part in how teenagers discover their next book. Online awareness is generated in a number of ways, the top three being: reading an excerpt (9%); receiving a recommendation through a social network (8%); and seeing a banner ad on a website (6%). For print media, 11% of teens saw their book on a bestseller list, while 10% read a teaser chapter from an upcoming book and 6% saw an ad in a magazine.

Radio (2%) and television (3%) play an extremely small part in influencing awareness.

Q: How do awareness factors rank with teens?

To get a little more in-depth with how specific awareness factors rank with teens, we asked them to think about a book they had recently read and try to remember how they heard about it. As we saw above, personal recommendations rank high among teens, and we see this here as well: almost 70% said they had “definitely” or “possibly” received a recommendation from a friend or relative. The second most popular discovery factor was having read another book by the same author.

Q: How frequently do teens recommend books to each other?

Just over 50% of teens surveyed said they “often” or “sometimes” recommend books to their friends. 22% claimed that they don’t discuss books with other people.

Q: What influences teens to purchase a book?

When asked more generally about what influences them to purchase a book, having enjoyed an author’s previous books (36%) was identified as the most important influence among teens. Other major influences are bookstores, libraries, and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Online sources that ranked low with teens include publisher websites, reading sites such as Goodreads, author websites, and blogs.

Q: Where do teens find book trailers?

Only 13% of teens surveyed had ever seen a book trailer. Of those who had, 35% had found the trailer through a basic web search, and 28% found it on YouTube. Links found within a book (10%), shared links on Facebook (7%), and Amazon (7%) also played a role in book trailer discovery.

While teens do tend to seek out additional works from their favourite authors, only about a quarter of them (28%) spend time visiting authors’ websites on a regular or occasional basis. Interestingly, though, 33% of respondents say they’ve never visited a website of their favourite author but think they would like to do so in the future.

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions to Ask A Reader. Stay tuned for more answers in the form of blog posts and research reports.

1. BookNet Canada, The Canadian Book Consumer 2012: Annual Report, May 2013, p. 70