Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Teens might prefer print books a little but ebooks allow for reading privacy



In this article from the Guardian, I read that teens prefer print books to ebooks. This might seem odd when you think how teens are universally addicted to their tablets and phones, but I think I have some explanations.

Identity vs. Clutter

Based on my experience selling books at comic and gaming conventions, I've noticed some differences in teens and adults. Although this is only anecdotal, I've had encounters in which the teen does want the paperback and the parent wants to know how to get the ebook.

I believe that some teens will be attracted to the physical object because they're looking to surround themselves with things that express their identity. Books do this very well because you can carry them around and display them.

A parent, however, will be engaged in the endless task of keeping clutter at bay. An adult, much like myself, might also know what it's like to a move a household across a continent. Even the most devout bibliophile might experience a change of heart after lugging boxes of books on and off a truck on a hot summer day. Ebooks present a marvelous alternative to this.

At the end of the day, however, teens and adults will vary in their preferences. I'm sure many teens delight in the privacy that their tablet provides for their reading material. They can indulge in sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll and no one needs to know.

Industry Spin

The publishing industry is a big one, and if it can come up with some information that supports the claim that teens like paper books, they'll get it out there so they can sell books, especially to adults that want to give a gift to a teen.

Also a closer look at the publishing industry news about the gains for print and the decline of ebooks shows that the information is incomplete. It does not really take into account the growing share of ebook sales going to indie authors. Sales analysis done by Author Earnings and Hugh Howey shows that more readers are buying indie ebooks, which is likely the source in the decline of ebook sales for large publishing companies.

Furthermore, publishing guru Jane Friedman wrote that the rise in print comes from the current popularity of adult coloring books.

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