The Increasing Ubiquity of Ebooks Isn’t Reaching Every Corner

The past two years have spoken loudly to the fact that ebooks are not a fad or a niche product: they’re mainstream and adoption is accelerating.

In 2010, just three years after Amazon introduced the very first Kindle, ebook sales on Amazon surpassed those of hardcover prints. In 2011, ebook sales surpassed paperback sales, and later that year, surpassed all print sales on Amazon.

As of last year, ebooks represented 16% of the total book market in Canada. And last summer, the Association of American Publishers in the US released a report showing that ebooks surpassed hardcover revenues—not just on Amazon—for the first time. Ebook revenues cracked $300 million in 2012, more than hardcovers, and more than $100 million higher than in 2011.

Part of the reason for ebooks gaining popularity is convenience—storing hundreds of books on an iPad or Kindle and reading them anytime, anywhere from the same place you watch Netflix and check your email—and another factor is price: The average ebook costs $7.50, the average paperback is $12, and the average hardcover is $19.

Despite the surge of ebooks, some markets are reluctant to adopt the new technology. One such area is children’s storybooks, where parents are hesitant to make the shift from printed books.

According to a recent study conducted for Booknet Canada, 41% of parents read ebooks for themselves but just 1% of parents read more ebooks than print books to their kids.

“What we’ve found, and has been found in similar studies, is that while many parents are adopting new technologies, they are reluctant to have their children adopt these technologies at the same rate,” reads the report.

“It seems that even the most technologically inclined parents are unsure how to navigate the integration of new technologies into concepts of good parenting,” the report continued.

Roughly one in four Canadian parents read ebooks with their kids, and just 4% prefer that their children read ebooks over printed books.

Meanwhile, teenagers are generally split and largely indifferent: 29% prefer ebooks, 37% prefer print, and 34% have no preference.

Only 10% of kids aged nine to 13 do not use a mobile device today.