In today’s world of the Internet and immediacy, it’s no surprise that eBooks have taken the reading world by storm. but what have ebooks done for teen reading?


Little Book Owl describes the debate between eBooks and physical books as a “constant battle”. Us book lovers are always in discussion on which is better; some of us love holding a physical copy, but can we really blame eBook lovers? After all, eBooks are fast and feasible! Easier to transport than physical copies (who wants to take four hardcovers on holiday?), eBooks are often cheaper, too!

but what do teens make of ebooks?

Well, research by K-Lytics found that five of the 30 main book genres have seen above-average growth in ebook supply in 2015, including young adult and teen fiction with an increase of +63%. YA and teen fiction is mostly consumed by teens, so maybe teens are more likely to pick up  a book on their screens than any other demographic. Suzanne Murphy — vice president of books at Disney Publishing Worldwide — would back this up! She says that:

“Teens really do seek instant gratification. They don’t want to wait, They don’t want to have to go to the store. They want it right away.”

I guess she’s not wrong. I mean, if teens are getting their book recommendations online on BookTube, why not follow the links straight to Amazon and start reading straight away? Why waste time and money going to the bookshop, when you can be engrossed in a new story in seconds?

Doing things online is more fast and efficient, and this is essential in keeping an audience interested in the modern age of the World Wide Web. Publishers Weekly quotes Cristina Gilber, director of publicity at Bloomsbury, in saying that teens are so “mobile” and “digital”, that reading eBooks is second nature to them, “an extension of how they live.” And if teens are downloading TV shows and films online, why not books?

Wow. so who needs physical copies, right?

Wrong! It could be said that teens are missing out on the true community feel of reading, of getting together and discussing their favourite books with friends and experiencing the story in person. While this kind of community exists online — as seen through the BookTube, Goodreads, and Tumblr book communities — it could be said that reading has become more of a personal, digital thing that teens no longer talk about in real life. If they’re not talking about books with their friends, how are they going to be encouraged enough to read them? And worst of all, if the next generation aren’t using bookshops anymore, could that result in their demise?

Scary, I know. But don’t panic yet.

Let’s take a look at some more facts. Despite statistics that show teens are picking up eBooks more than ever, Publishers Weekly reported that in 2017, young adult ebook sales fell by 8%. This could be because of too much online interaction in their lives. Steve Bohme, research director at Nielsen Book Research UK says young people use physical books to get away from digital media:

“We are seeing that books are a respite, particularly for young people who are so busy digitally.”

Either way, any increase in eBook sales doesn’t necessarily equate to a decrease in physical books. Many teens often preview books online to see if they want to pick it up, and then go out and buy the physical copy! Others, like emmmabooks, will buy multiple copies of their favourite book, even in numerous different languages! BookTuber whittynovels often shows her and her roommates sitting down with blankets and a hot chocolate to read together in her vlogs, and YA author Alexa Donne says that:

“YA readers still overwhelming buy hardcovers, and they do still shop in bookstores.”

So what does this mean for teen reading?

We discovered last week that millennials are just as likely to pick up a book for pleasure — on or offline — as adults these days, and it seems that this can definitely be true! But the standout point about eBooks is that they offer so much more access to teenagers. Online previews of eBooks may introduce teens to a story they never would have even seen before, if not for the digitalisation of reading. Teens may not think to walk into a bookshop every day, but they’re much more likely to spot an interesting suggested eBook while shopping on Amazon, or click a tweet that links to a new amazing YA release. Either way, it seems that teens are reading more thanks to the the door being opened more widely to their interests and lifestyle.

Summary

The digital impact of eBooks on teen reading is arguably the revolutionising of the reading experience for a younger audience. Whether you’re an eBook fan or not, we can’t deny that the platform has brought young adult literature into the modern day and, like we discovered in last weeks post on BookTube, opened up a new bookish world for a generation that spend sometimes eight hours a day online.

Also, if teenagers are reading online, they’re most likely getting creative with what they’re reading online. This brings us onto fandom and fanfiction, which we’ll be covering in the following weeks!

So, what do you think about eBooks? Does the practicality and immediacy entice you to pick them up? Or does the thought of not being able to turn the page make you cringe? How about eBooks’ impact on other teens in your life?

Be sure to leave your comments down below, And don’t forget to tweet us your thoughts on our Twitter!

Until next week…

Happy reading!