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Children's Uptake on Ebooks Expected to Increase, Says New BookNet Canada Study

Toronto, ON – September 16, 2013 — Ebook readership in Canadian families is already high—41% of parents and 27% of teens have already adopted digital reading—and another surge in ebook reading is coming soon, predicts a newly released study by BookNet Canada.

Measuring Attitudes and Adoption of Digital Content for Kids and Teens, released today, reviews parents’ and teens’ attitudes towards reading and technology and examines how new behaviours and technologies are transforming the way families find, access, and consume stories. Data for the study was derived from a nationally representative panel of book consumers grouped into two categories: parents of children aged 0–13, and young adults aged 14–17 who had received parental permission to respond to the survey. Data was collected from 1,044 respondents: 823 parents (responding for 1,420 children) and 221 young adults.

With the rise of tablets and other multi-use devices, parents are significantly more likely to own a tablet than a dedicated e-reader. On average, parents report having 6.4 devices per household, whereas teens report regularly using 4.8 devices. Among the 27% of teens who read ebooks, the study did not find a strong preference for print or electronic format: 37% prefer print books, 29% prefer ebooks, and 34% have no format preference. In addition, parents who currently read ebooks are significantly more likely to predict that their children will be reading ‘slightly’ to ‘significantly’ more ebooks in the near future. “Even parents who don’t currently read ebooks predicted that they would be e-reading in the future,” says Pamela Millar, BookNet Canada’s Director of Customer Relations, “so we can conclude that this trend is likely to pick up steam.” As ebooks become less novel and more widely accepted and available, publishers, authors, and booksellers alike may wish to focus on the book rather than its format in their marketing efforts.

The study also investigated discoverability. While word of mouth is still the most common factor in discovering a new book, both parents and teens are actively seeking out information on books and authors online. Forty-three percent of parents currently read a sample chapter online before purchasing a book, and a further 18% report that they are interested in doing so in the future. Apps are also a hot topic: children as young as three years old have regular access to apps, and nearly 50% of parents ‘agree strongly’ that apps have the potential to be effective educational tools. In particular, they’re looking for apps that are fun, educational, and aimed at improving reading skills. As the distinction between ebooks and apps can often be blurry, it is important for publishers to promote quality educational content—40% of parents are willing to purchase educational apps, and over 80% of the top-selling paid educational apps in the iTunes store are aimed at children.

Measuring Attitudes and Adoption of Digital Content for Kids and Teens contains over 90 pages of survey findings and analysis, complete with charts and graphs. In addition, an appendix titled “Next Steps for Industry Professionals” lays out ways in which the main findings of the study can be translated into action for those in the book industry. The report is available for sale in PDF format and a substantial discount is available for BNC subscribers. For more information and to order a copy of Measuring Attitudes and Adoption of Digital Content for Kids and Teens, please visit


BookNet Canada is the non-profit agency created by the Canadian book industry and the Department of Canadian Heritage to facilitate improvements in the book industry supply chain. It provides services and develops standards and certification in areas including e-commerce, bibliographic data, and analysis of point-of-sales and other supply chain data.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) for this project. / Nous reconnaissons l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada par l’entremise du Fonds du livre du Canada (FLC) pour ce projet.

Media Contact:
Joanna Karaplis, Marketing & Communications Manager 
416-362-5057 x. 231