Kids will be cash cow for e-book and reader growth

Barnes & Noble has shown its intent to appeal to a younger generation of e-book readers with the announcement that it will be releasing a collection of children’s books, Nook Kids.

The app will be aimed at 3-8 year olds and will feature 12,000 books when launched this weekend. It is a clear indication of how important e-book technology is becoming for publishers looking to ensure that they are part of the burgeoning market.

Tomorrow Barnes & Noble announce a new incarnation of the Nook reader, to be named Nook Color – which will, alongside the iPad, support the child-orientated collection of books, reports the Wall Street Journal.   The marketing of such technology towards youngsters is symptomatic of just how instrumental it is becoming in the education sector, and also shows how familiar children are becoming with electronics. Just as a generation now grows up knowing the internet all their lives, it’s possible gadgets like these will be a family staple as they become more affordable. 

Just as placing the sweets near the check-out in a Tesco Express has children bothering their parents for sugar, putting interactive kids books on e-book readers will have them pulling at coats and wallets. 

In one way this is a good thing, if the next generation of eight year olds are to spend their time reading an interactive version of “The Hungry Caterpillar” rather than knifing each on council estates in Peckham then it may just be worthwhile. But some studies have shown that reading from paper is better suited for soaking up information than staring at screens.

The release has the backing of 15 major publishers such as Harper Collins, with the Senior Vice President of digital marketing at Random House Children’s Books optimistic for the opportunities touch screen e-readers such as the Nook can offer.

“We’re interested in making sure kids can enjoy our books in many new ways,” said Judith Haut.

100 picture books will also become available by mid-November, and 30 enhanced picture books which will make full use of the Nook Color’s touchscreen will be available in late 2010 or early 2011.  

With the news that publisher Pearsons’ has announced significant growth due to its digital educational products, it is clear that e-books are proving a popular, real alternative.

The Financial Times reported a boost in revenue from educational business, which helped increase overall sales: “In spite of a more subdued performance in the third quarter, sales were up 7 per cent across the group in the first nine months of the year,” said the FT.

It also noted that registrations for interactive learning tool MyLabs grew by 40 per cent in the period, and “there are now 460,000 subscribers to the service outside North America.” Traditional school book publishing received significantly softer demand.