Want to know what’s next for ebooks? Ask a teen

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Teen e-reading behavior can be a good predictor of future trends in the general population.

Teen e-reading behavior can be a good predictor of future trends in the general population.

Want to know what’s next for ebooks, tablets, e-readers, and mobile connectivity? Take a close look at teenagers’ behavior.

“In many ways, teens represent the leading edge of mobile connectivity, and the patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population,” said Mary Madden, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and co-author of the report, Teens and Technology 2013.

Teens are e-reading bellwethers

The report reveals that about one in four teens (23%) own their own tablet computer. Not only do teens pick up on trends faster, but they’re soon to become the influential purchasers of tomorrow.  “The young adults and the teenagers are now the newest people who are beginning to experience e-readers. If they get hooked, it’s great stuff for the business,” said Matthew Shear, the publisher of St. Martin’s Press in a New York Times article on the influence of teens written by Julie Bosman.

Teen books become hits in the general population

Top teen ebooks have become cultural phenomena at an unprecedented rate, and scale. Take for example Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series which started off as a book for teens and grew to a film for all ages. Similarly, The Perks of Being A Wallflower and Life of Pi grew from teen books to big screen attractions for all ages. The Twilight series, lest we forget, began as a YA book. As a film, the more than 60% of the audience was over the age of 21.

Teens’ choice of ereading hardware: tablets

The books that teens are choosing aren’t teens’ only predictors of future trends. The way teens are choosing to receive their ebooks is significant as well—they’re choosing tablets over e-readers. Tablet ownership is rising among Young Adults—especially for the youngest teens. 26% of all teens ages 12 and 13 own tablets, while 22% of the older teens, ages 14 to 17 have tablets according to the Pew  Teens and Technology 2013 report. A separate study by the Book Industry Study Group and Bowker shows that number of readers who prefer tablets over e-readers is growing while the number who prefer a dedicated e-reader is shrinking.

Teens are doing a lot more than reading ebooks with their tablets—they’re connecting to social media sites, listening to music, playing games, and more. But teens are choosing to read books on tablets instead of ereaders and that trend is likely to spread to the adult population as well.

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