Question: What's keeping teens from reading ebooks?
Short answer: Nothing.
There was this really interesting article from Publisher's Weekly about teens and ebooks earlier this week. Read it here.
Based on a survey, teens are "reluctant" to embrace ebooks. Then the articles goes to talk about how agents, editors, and writers disagree. I think that's fantastic! In whole, it's a really exciting article about the future of ebooks for teens. There are some pretty cool apps that can be piggybacked on ebooks and it seems publishers are jumping on that. Luuuuv that idea - planning to do that myself in the future.
Unfortunately, I think there were a couple of odd assumptions made in the article.
Kids can read e-books on laptops or phones, but the e-reader makes it easier. “There still has to be an investment in the actual device before you start buying e-books,” says agent Ginger Clark. Still, with a basic Kindle now selling for just $79 (and machines inevitably getting less expensive) and a growing number of kids getting their parents’ hand-me-downs, more teens are becoming e-reader owners. (Ypulse’s Shreffler predicts a cell-phone–like “two-year window” for the devices.)
100% true. Teens do need a device of some sort to read an ebook. However, I seriously need to argue the idea that $79 for an introductory Kindle is too much. Many teens own a Nintendo DS (over $200, plus games which run anywhere from $9.99 to $59.99) or iPod Touch (again, hundreds of dollars - and they can read ebooks on it!). They have game systems like Wii or XBox or Playstation - all costing hundreds of dollars with equally expensive games.
If parents are willing to shell out cash for those electronics, what makes it seem like a basic Kindle at $79 is too expensive? I'm confused...
“Teens still find passing a copy back and forth is the easiest way to share,” says Clark at Curtis Brown. With e-books, passing along to others isn’t allowed.
I suppose that's true ... for ebooks with DRM - digital rights management. Traditional publishers put this limitation on their books so people can't share. That's too bad. Most indies, like me, don't utilize DRM so teens can share as many ebooks as they want. Please, pass my books on, I don't care. I'd love to see traditional pubs strip DRM from their ebooks too. After all, you can't force someone to not share a paperback. Why not let them share an ebook?
Many teens are slowly realizing they can check out e-books from the public library.
What breaks my heart about this statement, and they go into it a bit in the article, is that libraries are going to be shut out of ebooks from four of the Big Six publishers. I'm a HUGE proponent of libraries. My mom is a library aide. I've worked in libraries. My books circulate in libraries. I think people should have access to ebooks in libraries and I hope they work it out soon. Every librarian I know wants ebooks in circulation. Read more about this travesty here.
I think teens are poised to blow up the ebook market. They want content when they want it. I actually prefer ebooks now to paper, having read on my iPhone, Nook, and computer for a few months. It has to be something pretty special for me to shell out for a hardcover now.
Most of this Publisher's Weekly article is fantastic, just a couple things are wonky (to me), and I really do feel bad that traditionally published authors get such a low royalty rate on their ebooks. As a self-published author, I get a 70% royalty on my Kindle books priced above $2.99. I'm making a pretty good living, even with expenses like covers, swag, formatting, etc, etc, etc.
So, YAY to teens falling for ebooks! It's awesome. YAY to traditional publishing for investing in ebooks. YAY to trad pub for following indie writers' strategies of setting the first book free (my first novel, Anathema, is FREE on Smashwords & the iBookstore and Wattpad) and pricing as low as $2.99. But BOO to trad pub for not giving its talent higher ebook royalties. And BOO to trad pub for denying libraries access to some of their books.
Note: Oh, and it may look like I'm jabbing at Ginger Clark. I'm not. It just happened to be the parts she commented on in the article. I simply have a different viewpoint and opinion. I hear she's a pretty cool chick & a great agent.
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber
Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber