In her pink bedroom in Wayland, Emma Levy keeps shelves full of books. But when the 9-year-old began her summer reading this month, she didn’t crack open a single one. Instead, she turned on her hot pink Kindle and downloaded “Ramona Quimby, Age 8’’ for $1.99.
“It’s easy,’’ she said. “If you want a book, you don’t have to wait to go to the store.’’
Her 12-year-old twin brothers, Will and Sam, recently got Kindles after seeing their sister glued to hers. They, too, have been riveted to their e-books, “The Firm’’ and “The Greatest Game Ever Played.’’
“I think it’s great,’’ said their mother, Karen Levy, of her children’s renewed interest in the written word. “I just hope it isn’t a novelty.’’
And so do retailers. As the back-to-school shopping season begins, e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are the must-have item for stores that are betting these devices will boost their bottom lines.
“This is a generation of kids that have learned to communicate, search and purchase on very small devices, like mobile phones,’’ said James McQuivey, Forrester Research media analyst. “This year is a guinea pig year, next year the move will be en masse.’’
The trends are already striking. Forrester Research projects that 15.5 million e-readers will be sold this year, a 50 percent increase over last year. While the firm does not break out sales by age, children are a growing customer base. When Barnes & Noble launched a digital library for children last October, it had 120 picture book titles; today it has 570, including classics such as Curious George and Corduroy. Similarly, publisher HarperCollins reports that young adult e-books have surged 125 percent year over year.
While it may sound strange to see a 3-year-old pinching and zooming on the Nook’s touchscreen, “we have research that shows that kids are expected to be reading digitally now,’’ said Bronfin. “It’s not so much how they read, it’s that they read.’’
E-readers are also making their way into classrooms – with the hope that they will improve the education process. Boston public schools have about 10 to 15 e-readers to allow students to sample the technology, said spokeswoman Melissa Dodd. “There is tremendous potential in this realm,’’ she added.
Despite the popularity of e-readers, not everyone is ready to declare the death of traditional books. At The Park School in Brookline, where Kindles are available to faculty and students in prekindergarten through ninth grade, administrators remain “very committed to books,’’ said school spokeswoman Kate LaPine. “We have 60,000 books and nine Kindles,’’
For now, the rise of e-readers among children will depend on how tech-savvy their parents are and whether they can afford the latest gadgets.
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Image Source : Eric Rice