When Egmont UK's managing director Cally Poplak (pictured) told The Bookseller's Children's Conference that "old-fashioned publishing skills are as relevant and vital as ever," she could have gone on to say that "old-fashioned" reading patterns look to be just as enduring.
As #KidsConf15 was written up by my colleague, Sarah Shaffi:
The children’s publisher surveyed children and found that for those aged between 0 and 17, "the passion for the physical book has not diminished".
Poplak said: "Digital has impacted the world of publishing but not as I imagined it. 75% of children want their favourite stories and content in print form."
And only a week before, in New York, commentary in Nielsen's Children's Book Summit was supportive of the same direction.
In her report on #KidsBookSummit, Gayle Feldman (pictured) wrote:
Nielsen Book president Jonathan Nowell spoke of 2015, both adult and children’s, as being a “period of normalisation,” where the “enduring appeal” of print has reasserted itself. “Heavy” adult buyers favour digital for cheaper prices and “riskier” reads; print is preferred when prices are similar, the book is by a favourite author, it’s a gift or the consumer wants to be able to lend it out.
Teens prefer reading print for pleasure. “Print says something about them that e-books don’t.”
Granted, there may be some distinctions discerned as soon as you step around the traditionalist formats. For example, the success of Wattpad, with its 40 million users is entirely couched in digital: there's no print "version" of Wattpad's voluminous output. And indeed, 85 percent of its traffic is mobile, as we were reminded Thursday by Jane Friedman at Novelists Inc.'s First Word conference event.
But when it comes to trade, the fundamental grip that print has on the youth market seems to be one of the more enduring elements of marketplace contours.
It's worth noting that reports of Nosy Crow's new partnership with the National Trust for a range of important new releases—announced by Kate Wilson and Katie Bond at The Bookseller's conference, and covered by our Charlotte Eyre—is a major list of traditionally produced works, not (at least as described in coverage) new titles in Nosy Crow's trademark app division.
This article was written as the walkup to our #FutureChat of 2 October 2015. Join us each Friday live on Twitter at 4:00 p.m. London (BST), 3:00 p.m. GMT, 5:00 p.m. Rome (CEST), 11:00 a.m. New York (ET), 10:00 a.m. Chicago (CT), 9:00 a.m. Denver (MT), 8:00 a.m. Los Angeles (PT), 5:00 a.m. Honolulu (HAST).
More from Feldman's (pictured) report from New York:
Children now start reading digitally at age five, but the parental fondness for print has strengthened. If anybody needs specific proof, just look at 20% compound growth in board books for the last three years.
And clues to the dynamics behind the persistent preference for print in the sector were found in a presentation in the London conference from the Quarto Group's delightfully named Wild Eyed Editions, captured in some of the highlights provided by The Bookseller from the conference Twitter stream, such as:
- Books are immersive, tactile reading "devices."
- Books aid mental navigation and memory retention.
- Books build concentration and encourage critical thinking.
The appeal there, as it would turn out, was captured in tweeterie along the lines of "Don't make us choose between print and digital."
And is that it? Could it be that the long-running fondness in the necessarily family-driven children's market is a matter of choice over trend?
Or are there other elements in play, in the tenacity of print for young readers?
Jump in and give us your take on what seems to be an unusually dependable trend toward the long tried and true in digital times, we'd love to hear what you think is at play here.
See you in #FutureChat.
Join us each Friday live on Twitter at 4:00 p.m. London (BST), 3:00 p.m. GMT, 5:00 p.m. Rome (CEST), 11:00 a.m. New York (ET), 10:00 a.m. Chicago (CT), 9:00 a.m. Denver (MT), 8:00 a.m. Los Angeles (PT), 5:00 a.m. Honolulu (HAST).
- Plan to be with us on 4th December at The Mermaid in London for the fifth-anniversary FutureBook Conference, Super Early Bird rates are on now.
- Early Bird discounts are also available for the limited seating we'll have at The Bookseller's inaugural Author Day (#AuthorDay) in central London on Monday 30th November, the kick-off to a big week of #FutureBook15 events. More about Author Day.
As we add more "Five-Minute Manifestos on the Future of the Book Business, our most recently published #FutureBook15 manifestos are:
- A manifesto for flexing the publishing model | Alison Jones
- A manifesto for authors' marketplace success | Gary McLaren
- A manifesto for a digital book platform | Jim Bryant
- A manifesto to reinvent the book marketplace | Ron Martinez
- A manifesto for serial publishing | Len Epp
- A manifesto: Ten commandments for authors | Teymour Shahabi
Main image - iStockphoto: KieferPix