As e-books are now part of our children’s daily lives, what is the daily reality of an educational e-book publisher? by Chloe Benaroya, Tribal Nova, Inc.
Recent reports show that the children’s e-book industry is a dynamic economy with an appetite for kid’s reading on digital platforms. According to the 2015 study by Digital Book World and PlayScience, 93% of children (2-13 years old) read an e-book once a week. 21% of children’s books purchased in 2014 were e-books, a market driven by young adult e-books.
Although there are real business opportunities, the reality of an electronic publisher is trickier than one can imagine at first. The e-book market is segmented, and it can be a challenge for digital publishers to have a long-term strategy, to build a sustainable business model and to streamline the digital production process.
Whereas traditional book publishing is a mature industry, the e-book industry has still to define itself. What is an e-book for children in the first place? The definition of an e-book varies enormously according to the format, the content, and the user experience you target. Are you referring to a digital version of a book that can be read on your smartphones, tablets or other reading devices? Are you referring to an e-book with interactions, sound-effects, music and audio, usually called enriched e-books? Do you include in the definition reading apps that are sold as standalone apps in digital stores and can propose various user experiences (where audiovisual and interactive stimuli can be dominant over text elements)?
For each of these types of products, there are different distribution channels and marketing strategies. According to the path you choose, your final product can be distributed as an e-book and sold as a paid downloadable product via e-book retailers (Amazon Kindle Store or Barnes and Noble Nook store) or via publisher’s sites, or subscription services. Alternatively, your product can be considered a children’s app and be sold on completely different distribution channels, such as the Apple App store and Google Play. It will then compete for visibility in a competitive market (over 80,000 education apps in the App Store) with other children’s apps and renowned branded games.
The distribution channels you choose as a publisher will impact your pricing strategy and your business model. For example, if you consider the average price in the e-book
 The ABCs of Kids and E-Reading: Volume 4–Devices, Content and Reading Habits of Children 2–3, 2013, Digital Book World and PlayScience
 The Nielsen Children’s Book Summit, 2014.
Responsible Science Communication re: Digital Media by Aparna Nadig
Many academics are much more comfortable communicating their research findings to other academics than to the popular press, and regard the sound bites and snippets of research served up in the press with scorn. Yet, the intersection between research and the popular press is critical and particularly consequential when it comes to topics of health and education, as for our topic of digital media for young children. Our second Round Table Discussion focused on the Responsible Science Communication re: Digital Media to move past this passive position and consider what is needed to achieve more evidence-based and responsible dissemination of research findings. We started by exploring the context created by the popular press on digital media use by children, as this is the environment that educators and professionals working with children, digital media professionals, and scientists confront when trying to convey key messages about digital media use. I asked participants (who self-identified as students or researchers, 40%, education or health professionals, 32%, parents of young children, 16%, digital media professionals, 8%, or other 4%) to report their gut response with respect to how much they agreed with a barrage of headlines, from sensational takes like this one (1) from Salon.com which talks about “rotting kids brains”:
This is the report from the audience on the Salon headline:
To more balanced and nuanced reporting as seen in this article (2) from BBC News, which discusses varying degrees of video gaming being related to different outcomes in children:
Theme I: Key Messages for Parents and Teachers, by Lizzie Carolan, Melanie Orellana and Kathrin Rees
The kick-off presentation for the first theme was introduced by Kathrin Rees, Certified Teacher at Special Education Schools/Germany and Doctoral Candidate at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at McGill University. Her kick-off presentation (Rees diglitMcGill Day 2 blog slides) focused on three pieces of advice that parents frequently encounter in relation to sharing eBooks with their children: (1) quality eBooks guarantee learning, (2) read eBooks just like traditional books, and (3) give the child the lead. She evaluated the validity of these messages in turn.
For key message (1), quality eBooks guarantee learning, Kathrin brought up the fact that finding quality eBooks is often challenging. Although there is a growing number of excellent reviewer websites , not all parents or teachers know about such resources or take the time to consult them before making a purchase. Oftentimes, the frameworks that are out there have not been scientifically evaluated. Fortunately, researchers are beginning to put out evidence-based frameworks, such as Hirsh-Pasek et al. (2015) (discussed in more detail below). Apps often have flexible settings, which presents another challenge as both the basic and the enhanced version of the app need evaluation. Clearly, there is a need for a more efficient and streamlined way for parents and teachers to evaluate apps before sharing them with children.
Theme III: Responsible Marketing of Digital Media, blog by Chloe Benaroya, Tribal Nova, Inc.On June 27, we held a round-table discussion at McGill University as part of the Digital Literacy for Preschoolers conference. The round-table discussion focused on the three following themes: key messages for parents and teachers regarding digital media, responsible science communication regarding digital media, and responsible marketing of digital media. The ideas generated from these discussions will inform a new section of the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Each theme was introduced with a kick-off presentation to get ideas flowing for group discussion. Separate posts will summarize the kick-off presentation and the ensuing discussion and provide links to any materials that were provided to conference participants.
- Theme I: Key Messages for Parents and Teachers, blog by Lizzie Carolan, Melanie Orellana and Kathrin Rees, Child Phonology Laboratory POSTED ON DECEMBER 9, 2015
- Theme II: Responsible Science Communication, blog by Dr. Aparna Nadig, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders POSTED ON DECEMBER 9, 2015
- Theme III: Responsible Marketing of Digital Media, blog by Chloe Benaroya, Tribal Nova, Inc. POSTED ON DECEMBER 10, 2015
Natalia Kucirkova and Susan Rvachew are very pleased to announce our call for papers in a special issue of the International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction. We will be accepting abstracts first and then, after selection, will invite authors to submit full papers for submission by July 1, 2016. The special issue is called Reading in the 21st century: how does digital book-reading influence the reading processes and outcomes for young children? Please follow the link to the journal site for full information on the issue and take note of the important dates below.
Abstracts submitted to Guest Editors by: February 1, 2016
Decisions about acceptance of abstracts by: April 1, 2016
Full papers submitted in EVISE by: July 1, 2016
Final decisions by: March 1, 2017
Publication time: May, 2017
Natalia Kucirkova, The Open University, UK, ✉Natalia.email@example.com↗
Susan Rvachew, McGill University, Canada, Susan.firstname.lastname@example.org↗