Don’t Overlook Smart Phones

One of my daughter’s middle-school friends hates to read. Her mother says that getting her to read anything is worse than getting teeth pulled. This girl will always find shortest book she can when required to read something for school.

Recently, this middle-school girl obtained an iPod Touch. One day while browsing around the Internet, she came across an ebook that she thought she might be interested in reading. She decided to read this ebook for her next school project.

Little did she know, this book would turn out to be the longest book she ever read. You see, not having a physical copy, she did not think to look at the number of pages in the book’s description. Reading on an iPod is similar to reading on a smart phone, you only see a portion of a page at a time. This girl told me that when she got to chapter 24, she began to wonder how many chapters the book had. After going back to the Table of Contents to look, she discovered the book had a whopping 72 chapters.

Here is the good part. Not knowing that the book was so long, she began reading and got hooked on the story. Now, she is determined to complete the entire book—all via her iPod through reading in the cloud.

Recently, Bowker noticed a disparity between the number of Young Adult ebooks being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read ebooks. They decided to investigate. What Bowker found was that 55% of the buyers of Young Adult books are 18 years old or older. Those in the 30 to 44 age group reported they were purchasing the title for themselves 78% of the time.

With over half of the readers of Young Adult books being adults (taking into account both print and ebook format), what does this say about the reading of tweens/teens?

The data found in Bowker’s study combined with the recent findings by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that 45% of all U.S. adults now own a smartphone and that 29% of all ebooks are read on smartphone, makes me ponder a couple of things.

  1. I fear that many young people may be like my daughter’s friend. In our age of instant gratification and fast-moving media, many youth may be turned off by the length of books, leading them to consistently choose other activities over reading. Maybe digital reading may indeed help increase the number of youth reading for pleasure.
  2. Smartphones may currently be the most common mobile e-reading device.

What does this mean for you as an author or publisher? First, be aware that if you have written or published a Young Adult book, the majority of your readers may actually be adults. Second, make sure your digital books are available for sale through Apple’s iStore and the android stores (such as Google Play) for readers to purchase and download your book onto their smartphones.

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