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Attachment to Print—It’s a Parenting Thing
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Attachment to Print—It’s a Parenting Thing

While technology continues to influence how we consume content, most parents in the U.S. still place a high level of importance on print when it comes to reading. In some cases, they’re even bigger fans of print than their buying habits indicate.

For Nielsen’s Children’s Books in the Digital World report, parents of kids 12 and younger were asked the format of the last book they bought for their children. Ninety-six percent of parents of children up to age 6 reported buying a print book, and 94% of parents of children 7-12 said they bought a print book. However, Nielsen’s Books and Consumer research on reported book sales shows that 25%-32% of children’s books were purchased as e-books in the first-quarter of 2014. So based on this data, parents aren’t coming clean about their purchasing behavior, which suggests that they may be under-reporting their e-book purchases.

For reasons that aren’t clear, parents appear to have a bias toward print. Whether this is because parents visualize “a book” as a tangible, printed text or because they have subtle biases pertaining to their own self views, the mixed messages regarding formats demonstrates an interesting story on perceptions and realities regarding books and reading.

E-Book Behavior: A Mixed Story

E-book purchases in Q1 2014 25%-32%
Reported e-book purchases 5%
What percentage of books read are e-books (all ages) 13%
Do your children read e-books? 50%
Source: Nielsen

In addition to shifting format preferences, consumers are also in the process of shifting how they read digitally. In fact, Kristen McLean, co-chair of Nielsen’s Children’s Book Summit and CEO of Bookigee, says consumers of all ages are steadily making the shift to tablets from e-readers. That said, however, she stresses that print isn’t going anywhere, as there are just some elements of print that a screen can’t replicate.

For additional insight about the impact of technology on the book industry, join Nielsen for its Children’s Book Summit Dec. 12, 2014, in New York.