Teen Ebook Buying Lags Amid Discovery Challenges, Survey Finds

Children’s and young adult titles may continue to drive the lion’s share of growth in the book business overall, but young readers are still lagging behind older generations in ebook uptake, according to new Nielsen research.

“While 20% of teens [are] purchasing e-books,” Nielsen analysts find, “25% of 30–44 year olds and 23% of 18–29 year olds buy digital copies.”

A number of factors likely contribute to the lag within the youngest demographic, including the much touted shift toward the ‘rental economy’ that digital natives are thought to prefer; somewhat ironically, Nielsen suggests that digitally savvy “teens’ penchant for borrowing and sharing books rather than purchasing them” is still “easier to do in print.” Limited access to a credit card is another possible cause for younger readers’ continued reliance on libraries for reading material and information.

The findings also hints there’s a discovery gap to be filled online: “While teens might prefer reading traditional print, their paths to discovery are more dependent on word of mouth—and for today’s connected teens, this often means social media. Young readers are heavily influenced by what their peers are reading and what they’ve read before.”

That suggests publishers may still have work to do when it comes to leveraging social platforms and other digital reading sites to target teens more effectively.

As Jellybooks founder Andrew Rhomberg points out, “Let’s not forget that this very same group is taking avidly to Wattpad and other fanfic places like Movellas.”

Here’s a breakdown of the top factors influencing teens’ book purchases overall, according to the Nielsen survey:teen-books

Related: Andrew Rhomberg on Digital Discovery and Discoverability for Publishers at DBW15 | Rethinking Social Media in Book Marketing

One thought on “Teen Ebook Buying Lags Amid Discovery Challenges, Survey Finds

  1. Rich

    If teens are sharing book recommendations on social media, is part of the reason for preferring physical books simply the lendability? Lending books is a social activity. And most of my kids’ social media contacts are people they see in person on a regular basis. But they still can’t easily pass along an ebook they liked to their friends. Those friends have to go track it down on their own.



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