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!