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Nielsen Says "Tech-Savvy Teens Remain Fans of Print Books", But Doesn’t Back that Up With Data

nielsen-logo[1]There’s a new blog post up on the Neilsen site this week which shares some news on teen ebook adoption. According to Nielsen, teens lag adults in adopting ebooks.

At least that is what Neilsen says; you tell me if they prove the claim in the headline:

Despite teens' tech-savvy reputation, this group continues to lag behind adults when it comes to reading e-books, even with the young adult genre’s digital growth relative to the total e-book market. While 20% of teens purchasing e-books, 25% of 30-44 year olds and 23% of 18-29 year olds buy digital copies. While younger readers are open to e-books as a format, teens continue to express a preference for print that may seem to be at odds with their perceived digital know-how.

Several factors may play a role in teens' tendency toward printed publications. Parents' preference for print could have an effect or teens' lack of credit cards for online purchases. But another explanation may be teens' penchant for borrowing and sharing books rather than purchasing them, which is easier to do in print. Over half of teens are still looking for books on library or bookstore shelves. And in-store browsing is about level with browsing online for this group.

I found this story via DBW, which simply repeated the story without commenting on the fact that there is a key detail missing.

While Nielsen says that teens like print books, they neglect to actually say how many teens are actually buying paper books, an important detail which would put the ebook adoption rate into perspective. If more teens are buying paper books then ebook adoption is lagging, but if teens are buying print and digital at the same rate then they are not.

Nielsen  also left out any data on print vs digital borrowing habits. That latter might have offered insights into why teens aren’t specifically buying ebooks but could be borrowing them.

Alas, I can’t find that data online, so I cannot answer this question. Oh, I could cite data from Pew Research Center on reading habits, but that’s not quite the same thing, and without data on buying ebooks I am in the unfortunate position of merely saying "nuh-uh".

If you know where that data can be found, please let me know. Until I can find that data I will have to content myself with this graphic on how teens are influenced in their buying book habits:


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Mick Rooney December 11, 2014 um 2:06 pm

Included in this article are insights from Nielsen’s Books and Consumers U.S. Survey, a monthly online survey of 6,000 book buyers selected from a nationally representative sample by age, gender and location representing approximately 180,000 book purchases per year, and Nielsen’s Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, a sample of 3,000 children’s book buyers from the Books and Consumer Survey (including parents and teens), fielded Fall 2011-Fall 2014. Surveys were conducted in English only. Book sales were sourced from Nielsen BookScan, which measures EPOS sales data supplied by retailers in 10 countries worldwide.

I assume if we all want to know the basis and breakdown behind the figures, we’ll have to attend the Children’s Book conference in NY!

And it wouldn’t be the first time DBW just churned out a press release from another source without any qualification!

Robert Nagle December 12, 2014 um 7:27 am

I’m a middle school teacher and I can say unequivocally that young adult print books are a lot more popular vs ebook version. Lack of credit card may be a reason, and also the expensive price of ebooks. Used print books by comparison cost next to nothing.

Nate Hoffelder December 12, 2014 um 11:03 am

I would bet the low cost of used paper books is the main factor, yes.

Analysts Claim Teens Still Prefer Print Books | TechCrunch December 12, 2014 um 10:34 am

[…] one commenter on The Digital Reader noted, used print books are amazingly cheap – even cheaper than ebooks, given the resources […]

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