Bowker: British Kids Read E-Books on Larger Screens


British Kids Read Their e-Books On a Bigger Screen, says New Study from Bowker

Laptops dominate devices for the picture book crowd, while tweens kindle an interest in e-readers

London, UK – May 14, 2012 – British children aged 10 and under are reading e-books, but on laptops rather than designated devices like the Amazon Kindle. But once they turn 11, they embrace the Kindle as their most widely used device for e-book consumption (Figure 1). These insights are courtesy of Bowker® Market Research’s Understanding the Digital Consumer project, an ongoing study of the use of e-books by British consumers. The latest wave of research, completed in March 2012, included an extended set of questions around children and their use of digital content.

“The e-book market is developing rapidly in all age groups. Children are big consumers of books and it’s essential to plot their take up of this format,” said Jo Henry, Director of Bowker Market Research. “Young children’s preference for laptops may reflect that device’s superior delivery of colour and graphics, so important in books for that age group. As tablets take hold, we may see younger readers skip past dedicated e-readers altogether and go directly to this emerging device.”

The latest results from Understanding the Digital Consumer show that among adult readers of e-books there has been a huge increase in the use of the Kindle device, with 40 percent of e-readers using it most often. The Kindle has surpassed both desktops and laptops (collectively used most often by 45 percent as measured in February 2011) and other e-readers (used most often by 6% in February 2011). There was also growth in the use of tablets, which more than doubled market share between February 2011 and March 2012, but still lag other devices. Just 12 percent report using them most often.

Looking at e-book consumption overall, Understanding the Digital Consumer shows continuing growth in the percentage of British adults who have purchased an e-book — an almost three-fold increase since February 2011. The market is set for yet further growth, with 31 percent of British adults saying they are likely to buy an e-book in the next six months.

Those under the age of 35 remain slightly more likely to have purchased an e-book, but growth in e-book consumption is being driven by older readers, particularly those aged 45-54 (Figure 2). Just over a quarter of this group purchased an e-book in the six months to March 2012, up from 17 percent in November 2011. Looking at gender differences, while men are more likely than women to buy e-books, women make more voracious e-book consumers. They buy more and download more e-books for free, too.

The full report Understanding the Digital Consumer 2011/20122 is now available at £3,500+VAT; there is a separate Children’s E-book report at £1,500+VAT, and an Executive Summary at £750+VAT. For further details please contact Bowker Market Research (

About Understanding the Digital Consumer Study
The Understanding the Digital Consumer Study monitors engagement in and attitudes toward the digital book market among British consumers. The first year of research (2010/2011) involved two online omnibus surveys with samples of about 4000 British adults aged 16+, weighted to match the British population by sex, age and broad region. The first year also included a series of six focus groups with current and potential future downloaders, undertaken by Bowker Market Research in November 2010. The second year of the study (2011/2012) involved two online surveys with samples of about 3000 British adults aged 16-84, weighted to match the British population by sex, age and social grade, and with quotas to match the population by broad region. Fieldwork was conducted by Lightspeed Research. The first survey took place in November 2011, and a second, more detailed survey was undertaken in March 2012.

The questions asked in this latest wave of research match, where appropriate, those asked in previous waves, in order to monitor trends. However, as the market develops, some questions have been altered slightly, new questions are added and not all questions are repeated at each stage.

About Bowker
Bowker is the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information and management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. Creators of products and services that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience, the company also generates research and resources for publishers, helping them understand and meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker, an affiliated business of ProQuest and the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories, is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey with additional operations in England and Australia.

*Kindle is a registered trademark of, Inc.

One thought on “Bowker: British Kids Read E-Books on Larger Screens

  1. A Stevenson

    Surely (as hinted at above) most of this is down to colour?

    Most children’s books for 10 year olds and under include images, and when you keep in mind that the Apple iPad is the only mainstream (colour) eReader-esque device on sale in the UK …then it’s not too hard to see why laptops (which are much more widely-available than iPads), are filling the gap that the Kindle Fire and other colour eReaders are refusing to plug (in the UK).



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