One Solution for Amazon's In-App Purchase Dilemma
Publishing Executive & Book Business as iPad Apps

eReaders for Kids

I don't recall ever seeing anyone younger than 25 or with a dedicated eReader.  That's why I was impressed when I saw the stats cited in this recent New York Times article.  Here are the excerpts that jumped out at me:

At HarperCollins, ebooks made up 25% of all young-adult sales in January, up from about 6% a year before.

In 2010 young-adult ebooks made up about 6% of the total digital sales for titles published by St. Martin's Press, but so far in 2011, the number is up to 20%.

Wow.  And note that Kindles and Nooks are the devices cited; you won't find "iPad" anywhere in that article.  That doesn't mean the iPad isn't influencing these sales, of course, but it makes sense that the lower-priced dedicated eReaders are driving the bulk of this surge.  After all, how many parents are comfortable handing a $500+ iPad over to their 11- or 12-year-old?

This seems like it could be an even bigger opportunity for the eReader vendor willing to explore the sub-$100 price point.  Not $99.  I'm thinking $49.99, max.

I've suggested this before, but why not come out with a Kindle or Nook that's nothing more than a reader.  No wifi.  No cellular.  It's simply a reader with a port that tethers to all the popular smartphones.  You download your books using the smartphone app and move them to your eReader via a cable.  Even if the young reader doesn't have a smartphone it's highly likely their parents do.

Is this clunkier than the current solution with wifi/3G built in?  Absolutely.  But by casting a broader net, imagine how many new young book lovers we could create!



I still think that this is a great idea, and not just for young readers. There doesn't even need to be a smartphone involved for the download. Kids can use one of those computer things they learned about in history.

That said, I don't know how much wireless adds to the cost of an ereader. Probably not enough that a wireless-less ereader could be sold at $49 without incurring a loss. Then again, costs are coming down, and making a loss now to get your ereader into the hands of young people now might make sense for Amazon and others.


Great post, Joe, but it got me thinking: might that 25% of young-adult sales on e-readers not reflect the segment of adult fans of YA? Judging from conversations on many blogs I know that many adults love what's going on in YA right now, and they judge that some of the best writing is being done there. I wouldn't be too surprised if that segment of sales is skewed as a result.

Devaki Khanna

What if these e-readers carried books in multiple formats, such as Kindle, ePub and PDB? That way, those of us who purchase books in multiple formats would be a lot happier!

Yael K. Miller

I'm seconding Phil. I'm a member of an "adults who love YA" book club and a number of group members have ereaders. Unless someone has data that says the age of who is reading (not just buying) the YA, you can't really tell what's going on.

Bill Seitz

I didn't see anything suggesting that publishers knew what portion of those ebook sales were read on, say Kindle software running on a desktop or an iPhone (or ipod touch), vs on Kindle hardware.

Notcathy @ Kids Pillow Pets

The nice thing about this would be, it is allowable to download your books using the smartphone app and move them to your eReader via a cable. Even if the young reader doesn't have a smartphone it's highly likely their parents do. Great idea!

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