September 29, 2010

Study: Children More Likely To Read If Using Digital Devices

According to a new study, children think a bigger selection of electronic books would make reading for fun even more fun.

Scholastic Inc. released the 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report on Wednesday, which offers a mixed portrait of e-books and families.  About six out of 10 of kids between the ages 9 and 17 say they are interested in reading on an electronic device like the Kindle or the iPad.  One out of three from the same age group said they would read more "for fun" if more books were available digitally.

The "Harry Potter" series is among the books that are not available yet in digital format.  J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, said she prefers her work to be read on paper.

The e-book market has grown since the launch of Amazon.com's Kindle device in 2007.  Publishers say that it has grown from less than 1 percent of sales to between 5 to 10 percent.  However, the new report is also the latest to show substantial resistance. 

Only 6 percent of parents surveyed have an electronic device, while 76 percent say they have no plans to buy one. 

Eighty percent of adults said in a recent Harris Poll that they were not likely to get an e-reader.

"I'm not surprised to know that. I think we're still at the beginning of e-books," Scholastic Book Club president Judy Newman told The Associated Press, adding that the expense of digital devices was a likely problem for potential e-book fans.

The 2010 report shows a decline in reading for fun as children grow older.  Over half read for fun between ages 6 and 8, but the percentage drops to around 25 percent by ages 15 through 17 and just 20 percent for boys in that age group.  Newman sees technology as both a problem and a solution.

"We know that around age 8 they (children) start to lose interest in reading," Newman told AP. "Obviously, digital media is competing for kids' attention. It's very important that we as publishers make sure we're engaging kids in reading for fun. There's an opportunity to use technology to engage kids. ... We can have great content presented in a digital way."

The Harrison Group, a marketing and research-consulting firm, compiled the Kids and Family report.  The survey took place in the spring and interviewed 1,045 children and 1,045 parents.


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