Ask A Reader: What influences parents when buying books?

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: how do teens find new reads?

Q: What influences adults when buying books for kids?

In our 2013 consumer study, Measuring Attitudes and Adoption of Digital Content for Kids and Teens, we asked parents what influences them when purchasing books. We found that when buying books for themselves, parents’ motivations are in line with similar findings for Canadian adults in general.1 The biggest influences include enjoying an author’s previous work, browsing in a bookstore, and seeing a book on a bestseller list.

When it comes to choosing titles for their children, parents rely primarily on recommendations from friends and family for both the 0–8 (35%) and 9–13 (32%) age brackets. For kids in the latter group, there is a distinct shift as parents rely increasingly on school sources such as teachers (17%), school book clubs and flyers (19%), school book sales (16%), and school librarians (11%), who are consulted nearly as often as public librarians (10%).

For both age groups, the second-most popular route for parents is to go solo and rely on their own research. For 0–8 years of age, 29% of parents say they make their own decisions with no outside input; for 9–13-year-olds, 22% of parents make their own decisions. For parents who don’t rely on recommendations, it’s likely that awareness factors such as publicity and store location are playing an increasingly important role.

Thanks 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