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.