Do your kids read eBooks?

ebooks

Dave Rees and I were chatting the other day about how we would each like to write a book at some point in the future (the very near future for me – I hope). The conversation turned to selling these books and Dave suggested going the electronic distribution path instead of the traditional forest killing print route. Now while I’m definitely a tree hugger, I am not so sure I would want to go that way. At least not anytime soon. Even though I don’t often read printed books anymore (which I realize makes me a hypocrite), the whole eBook movement is still very much in its infancy. That means if a person were to offer their work only in eBook format, that not as many people would see it. This is especially true for me, because I want to write a children’s book. An eBook for adults has the potential to do OK, but one for kids would probably not do as well. With the advent of the Amazon Kindle and now the new larger format DX aimed at the education market, this all might change soon.

I wonder just how many young people out there are currently reading eBooks and to what degree. How old are they and what reader are they using? And for you adults, would you or have you purchased a book that was only available in electronic format?

12 comments… add one

  • rghdrft June 25, 2009, 1:53 pm

    Yes, I have several just ebooks. Most are for work technical journals and such. I do have a few just ebooks – it depends on the book – some I’d want to have the hard copy other types ebooks only are fine.

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  • Smythe Richbourg June 25, 2009, 2:39 pm

    I work for a digital publishing company, so I have access to a large number of electronic books. Our parent company is perhaps the largest distributor of paper books in North America, as well, so when I go to the home office, there are good opportunities to pick up dead tree editions. That being said, I can’t get anyone in my family – wife, or either daughter – 19 and 23 years old) interested in electronic books. They will read web sites and text themselves silly (well, except my Lovely Bride, who is just getting used to typing on a phone!), but when they want to read a story, they head to the library or the bookstore. (They started going to the library in utero, so I guess it’s what their training was!) I’m about 50/50. I have no problem reading on the iPhone, Palm, Newton, or laptop. My issue is that there has not been a good, consistent, easy way to get the content I want at a price I was wiling to pay on my reader of choice. I can go to my county library web page, request the book, get an email when it’s at my branch, ride my bike a half-mile each way, and have virtually any book in their collection. Why should I pay for something I’m only going to read once, or maybe twice?

    Bibles, on the other hand, have been something that I have paid quite a lot for electrnoically. There are several iPhone products that offer many different solutions for getting a Bible on the go. On my Palm I had 7 different translations in Laridian’s MyBible format, as well as several other texts. Since I read, re-read, and cross-reference there, it makes more sense to have my own copy than with a single-use book. (I guess the same holds true for music versus movies. I listen to songs over and over, but movies are once, maybe twice viewed. I can always rent it on Netflix again if I get a hankering to see It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World one more time. If it’s really, really good, then I’ll buy the movie.)

    For authors and publishers, I’d look into Lulu.com or BookLocker or Lightning Source. These print-on-demand houses offer the ability to sell print copies, and some can offer an eBook from the same digital original. Most can do a 4-hour turn from ordering to shipping on dead-tree editions. (I’m not going to say which of those is affiliated with my company!)

    For children’s books, e-books don’t make the same sense, because it’s not about the text – it’s as much about the pictures and the interaction as it is about the content. Books like Pat the bunny, where there are tactile experiences on each page, just don’t make it on the screen.

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  • Jeremie June 25, 2009, 6:29 pm

    I’m not entirely still in the category as a ‘young reader’ for child’s books, but I do enjoy ebooks, and have for a solid 10 years or so. They’re great for reading at night.
    What I would prefer, is that whenever you purchased a book, you’d get the ebook as well. With several of my books, I’ve purchased the paperback, the audiobook, and the ebook, Very Frustrating!
    I use my PDA (Handspring Visor, Palm TX, now HTC TyTN II) to read them, and I have used my desktop and laptop (DOS, Win98SE, WinXP, Linux).
    I currently have well over 400 ebooks anywhere from free classics from Project Gutenberg, current releases from ebook stores, or technical documents & manuals converted for the mobile device.
    Software-wise, i prefer Mobipocket, but do use RepliGo, iSilo, eReader, TomeRaider, Vade Mecum.
    I have not specifically chosen an ebook because it was or was not available in another form. I have a number of books that are not available in any form other than physical, and some that are solely electronic. I’ve purchased some ebooks because of an audio book, or paperback.
    I enjoy the ability of ebooks [depending on the reader, of course] to take notes, highlight, etc. Which is one of the reasons I have not purchased a Kindle yet (no touch screen, no support for Protected Mobipocket).

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  • JanetCinNC June 25, 2009, 10:59 pm

    My daughter has been reading ebooks since she could read. When she was in kindergarten, she inherited my old Handspring Visor with a copy of the Peanut Press reader on there. Granted, there weren’t a lot of books for her at the time, but she did have some old out-of-copyright books like Alice in Wonderland. She continued with hand-me-down Palm devices for several years. Most of her books at the time were traditional paper books.

    About 2.5 years ago, we bought her a Sony PRS-500. She was about 11, at the time. About 1.5 years ago, we upgraded her to the PRS-505. The Sony bookstore has many young adult books for her now. Warning for parents – Sony has some wildly inappropriate books classified as young adult. Read about the books before you let your child buy them!

    My daughter still buys more paper books than electronic books. That’s partially because there are many more books published for her age group in paper than in electronic format. Plus, she just enjoys the feel of a real book.

    As for me, I don’t buy anything but electronic books now. A few years ago, we had a flood and lost at least 600 books that were stored in the basement because we ran out of room upstairs. My heart can’t take another loss like that, so we only buy ebooks now. Luckily, all the fiction books we tend to buy are available in ebook format at the same time as paper format.

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  • stubb June 26, 2009, 10:35 am

    i have found that ebooks are not great. why give up the weight/scent(you will know it if you have experienced it) of a book. i dont really like new books either i prefer to trawl charity shops etc so you get a nice feeling when you find one you want. if physical books ever die i hope i have long gone and i am not yet 20. also… in all seriousness you guys will spend your whole day looking at tv or pc screens. give your eyes a rest and read something not back-lit. apologies to anyone who only uses e-paper. also as much i it pains me to say this. its easier to pirate digital media. altho i once bought on the road in vietnam purely cos every page had been lovingly photo-copied!

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  • JanetCinNC June 26, 2009, 10:59 am

    E-ink devices like the Sony reader and Kindle are not back-lit. They are very much like a page from a paperback book in size and appearance, to me. They are missing that “new book” smell, though.

    Piracy of digital books may be “easier”, but that isn’t a reason to discourage people from reading digital books. Most digital books are protected by DRM methods, so I would think most black-market digital books had been scanned in from a paper book. As you said, it’s possible to pirate anything, like the photocopied book you bought in Vietnam. People who want to can find a way to cheat at anything.

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  • Rick June 26, 2009, 1:18 pm

    VHS or Beta? Actually both came from your neighborhood movie theatre first. Today we have options like no one in history ever dreamed of. I admit it’s tough keeping up and guessing which “technology” will be around in 2-5 years but ultimately it’s about enjoying the content on your terms. Do you still listen to your 45’s, cd’s or mp3’s?

    The question as to “print or ebook” — your book is different. Just like my belief (though not correct but it’s honest) is community college is not as good as a four year institution. Many feel an ebook is inferior to a printed book. To me it comes down to what you want. Holding a printed book says something but pod services can provide that. There’s a higher cost in time and money in producing a “real” book that may not make economic sense to some.

    If it sounds like I’m waffeling I am. I own many hard back books that I could have borrowed from the library and my hard drive is filled with ebooks that are always with me. I’m a firm believer that you make choices on your needs from the resources and habits you have. So if you like the feel and smell of a book get the paper edition and if you like technology go digital.

    I happen to produce digital children’s books (with pictures and audio). We’ve been early adopters into the format and have answered many questions on the subject. Bottom line is I still read (with the book) to my kids after school and at bedtime but I also allow them to watch books on a screen.

    Convergence is on the way for authors and publishers as was evident at this years BEA. Consumers and publishers are forging new territory together and in the end we will all find our nuggets of gold.

    Rick Toone

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  • Aybara June 26, 2009, 3:51 pm

    I own plenty of physical books (three bookshelves full, and some in storage boxes). I also own plenty of eBooks.

    I see the benefit in both. Although I do like having the digital copies. Mainly because I am a voracious reader. I read quickly, and I find lots of time to read (before bed, bathroom, etc).

    Digital books have the benefit that when I go on vacation I tend to read more. I can easily read five books in a week (depending on destination…I read less going to Disneyland than I would going to Norton, KS to visit family). That is a lot of space taken up in suitcases, travel bags, etc. Not to mention cramping up the car we travel in. While my Kindle takes up no room.

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  • Iouri Haller June 26, 2009, 4:17 pm

    Certainly, manufacturers and sellers of devices for reading of Ebooks speak what to buy and read electronic books it is good and convenient. That it is possible to have the whole library of Ebooks, that it is possible to download Ebooks from the Internet in one device. That it is possible to read the Ebook in any place and in any conditions. What to read the Ebook it is prestigious and it is useful.
    Such sensation that all was earlier differently!
    And what has changed?

    Scanned available paper books, have translated them in new mobile formats and have begun an advertising campaign!

    And it is more than anything!
    Books and so are on sale at every turn. Now also on the Internet it too became fashionable. And favourable!

    It is not favourable to create new Ebooks, with the new and modern Content. It is favourable to sell digital copies of paper books. As it is much already sold computers, mobile devices and now sell new devices for reading of Ebooks.
    Because the main source of the income on the Internet are new users. Not skilled and capable to be surprised to miracles of technologies. On them and prepared new hobby for electronic books.

    Those who has already mastered the Internet, at those already are the libraries and the priorities in reading, the strategy in information consumption.
    But the profit is necessary to sellers! And now – crisis!

    It is necessary to tell to beginners as it is beautiful and convenient – to buy the new device for reading of Ebooks, to buy a digital copy of the book, and to enjoy this possession.

    Thereby, assiduous manufacturers and sellers of new devices for reading of Ebooks push away readers from the new literature. From the present and interesting network literature.
    Which it is possible not only to read, but also to listen. To hear music in the book, to see set of images and to participate in occurring events. To discuss in social networks the opinion and to alter a plot. To receive impressions on all possible levels of perception.

    It is the modern electronic book. Multimedia Ebook.

    Instead of that manufacturers and sellers of modern devices for reading of Ebooks suggest to buy.
    Do not give in on a deceit!
    Do not allow to mislead itself!
    The Internet – huge space for free creativity. And always it is possible to find in it interesting to itself. If not to trust those who wishes to sell to you new model of a stone axe.

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  • Rex June 26, 2009, 5:10 pm

    I’m all for ebooks. My kids will read them too, on the the “hand-me-down” devices they have. My main complaint is the cost. Why does a book cost as much or more than a hard copy? Granted the author/publisher needs to see some money on their end, but why pad cost for bootlegging, to the points that it cancels out the printing cost. If pricing was more reasonable, I’d buy a lot more ebooks.

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  • JB December 20, 2009, 2:37 pm

    I googled this topic and found your post. Today I posted about this same topic and linked to this page of yours. Mu guess is that eBook usage will keep increasing.
    http://jbvadeboncoeur.info/2009/12/20/do-middle-grade-readers-read-e-books/

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  • Priya Siva October 5, 2012, 9:31 am

    I write an adventure series for kids. I was skeptical about eBook sales initially. But I think the trend is changing now.

    I recently visited my family in DC and forgot to pack story books for my kids. The easiest and most effective solution for me was to order some eBooks on my iPad.

    I think more and more people have switched to eBooks for Kids over the past year.

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