Home » Children's Books, Non-US » Children turn their backs on e-books as ‘screen fatigue’ takes hold and sales of books for youngsters soar

Children turn their backs on e-books as ‘screen fatigue’ takes hold and sales of books for youngsters soar

10 September 2017

From The Daily Mail:

Children’s printed book sales are soaring as youngsters turn their backs on online reading due to ‘screen fatigue’.

Sales of children’s titles rose by 16 per cent last year with sales totalling £365million, as popular authors like David Walliams inspire young readers to pick up a book.

But while printed sales increase, e-books are on the wane with a 3 per cent fall in sales.

. . . .

Figures show that almost £1 in every £4 spent on printed books is from a children’s title, reports the Observer.

Children’s authors are proving to be a key genre in the publishing industry, often outselling others.

But while parents have often worried about youngsters spending too much time on their computer or games console, experts believe that there is a real hunger for the written word among children.

According to industry magazine, The Bookseller: ‘Children are now reading more and want to read print.’

Link to the rest at The Daily Mail

Well. If The Bookseller says so, it must be true.

In PG’s observation, children like brightly-colored images and objects of all sorts, including books. A new brightly-colored object tends to be more interesting than an old brightly-colored object. Old brightly-colored objects, including books, live under the bed. Children have demonstrated this behavior for a long time.

Children also like watching Peppa the Pig, George of the Jungle, Moana, Queen Elsa, Wild Kratts, etc., etc., etc., on television. They will often do so until an adult turns off the television. This behavior has continued over several generations of children, starting with black and white television. Old televisions are too big to fit under the bed and old television shows never die. No sign of screen fatigue here.

Children also like playing with iPads, Kindle Fires, etc. Hand a child one of those and the child will often play with it until an adult intervenes. While not a widespread phenomena today, PG predicts that old iPads will someday live under the bed. No sign of screen fatigue here.

PG suggests that screen fatigue is the creation of a marketing manager somewhere, not a psychological or sociological phenomenon. PG doesn’t know if “children are reading more” is a fact, but suspects it may also be the creation of a marketing manager somewhere.

One thing PG does know is that marketing managers don’t really care if screen fatigue or reading children are genuine phenomena, so long as adults continue to purchase children’s books.

Children's Books, Non-US

26 Comments to “Children turn their backs on e-books as ‘screen fatigue’ takes hold and sales of books for youngsters soar”

  1. Here’s the original story in The Guardian:

    Question: Aren’t most kid’s books actually bought by adults? Wouldn’t that invalidate the claim that kids are choosing print?

  2. Repetition of myths soothes the gullible mind.

  3. They repeat the lie because acknowledging the truth would require them to change their behavior. Heaven forfend! Anything but that.

  4. For older children, I’d argue that “screen-fatigue” might be real, but with the enormous proviso that it is more a case of “homework on the screen” fatigue. If you associate screens with classwork and school-reading, print might become a desirable escape.

  5. If Amazon and the other ebook makers had stuck with the original formula, ‘e-ink’ screens, which must be read in ambient light, like regular books, there would be no ‘screen fatigue. But no, they had to go and ruin the whole ‘e-book reader’ phenom by making them with backlighting, bright, color screens, internet access. All of which ensures that the kiddies will jump out of the book and check their FB page or whatever. I still have my orig Kindle with e-ink screen and I love it. The screen looks like velum and is just like reading paper.

  6. our children [in their early 50s now] and grandchildren, [in their late teens and early twenties] never had tv plaster face nor vid game anemia.

    The sky and land and creatures-and work and school-
    along with scouts, track and swim teams, chorale, church, friends interested in similar, filled out their young lives. They buy books, print on paper, themselves, and also buy ebooks occasionally.

    We home schooled on Saturdays; day river raft trips, winter biology and zoology, etymology, hunting, fishing–knowing the names, phlum, species, latinate names, anatomy of creatures, as well as the spiritual attitude toward all.

    Parents and grandparents ever close by, even though everyone worked
    a day job. It wasnt easy, but seeing the difference in characterlogical development and maturity –and especially the kids dedication of service to others– makes us glad> were there flub-ups? Plenty!!! Try just this one alone by the adults: arriving 4 wheel drive over rocks and near high centering axles for two hours… to build snow huts in the mountains while all sleeping bags safely back at ranch.

    Not sure, other than being with, watching over, guiding, laughing with, showing by example work ethic, ways to face life, making mistakes and picking it all up again somehow, else would folks have children

  7. It’s the Daily Mail, the newspaper that supported Hitler and Thatcher. Don’t expect to find any sage wisdom there.

  8. All three of my readers, aged 11 to 5, vastly prefer physical books to reading on their tablets, in spite of how hard I’m pushing ebooks on them. I’ve finally gotten my eldest daughter used to it. I had to buy her a 10″ tablet with a folder-over cover, so she can hold it like a “real” book. (Her words, not mine.)

    Now the hold up is she’s not allowed to bring any devices to school, so if she wants to read at school, it has to be a physical book.

    • I’ve found ‘not pushing’ works better (and having something they can only get that way with hints other things might also be easier can help. 😉 )

      Packing for a trip can be fun; ask which is easier to take with them, a stack of books or one thin reader?

      • We have four kids… just leaving the house is an ordeal, lol. We don’t travel much.

        I got my oldest to read digitally by getting her Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn from the library, and afterwards told her she could only finish the series on her tablet, because I’d already purchased them in that format.

  9. The University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences has a lab devoted to brain scanning babies, toddlers, and children to answer some questions about print versus screens. Their conclusions, last I looked, were that print and screens are equivalent when adult involvement is equivalent.

    In other words, kids learn best when adults pay attention and interact with them. The focal point, whether a book, a screen, or some other object, doesn’t matter much.

    I conclude that the kids are neutral, but if the parents are more comfortable with paper books, the kids will prefer paper. If the parents prefer screens, the kids will prefer screens. If the parents don’t care about the kids, nothing else matters.

  10. Books are bought by adults. Adults who notice that if the same screen plays a game, a video, and a book, the book will get bypassed. If you want the kid to look at a book, you take the moving shinies out of the equation. Ebooks work better for people who have already learned to prioritize the not-blinking, not-moving story.

    • My own experience is that my kids (now 17 and 15) both read a ton on their phones. But they don’t read ebooks; they read Reddit articles and blog posts on subjects that interest them. They seem to prefer physical books for reading. Both have extensive collections in their rooms. They also have access to a Kindle Paperwhite and an old original Kindle (my own ereader is a Kindle Fire), but I can’t remember the last time either of them picked up those devices.

      There is truth in the idea that if it’s a choice between a video or a game and reading a book, they’d rather jump on the video or the game. So the physical book takes those “moving shinies” out of the equation, as you say, and allows them to focus on the words on the page…

      Me, I’d rather read…

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