Kids prefer real thing to ebooks


The Harry Potter series is still No 1 on Whitcoulls’ Kids’ Top 50 list. Photo / AP

Kiwi youngsters are reading more than ever – and they prefer diving into a physical copy of Harry Potter or The BFG to ebooks.

The latest Whitcoulls Kids’ Top 50 list comes as the chain says it’s seeing “a very significant” jump in sales of children’s and teen books.

“This upswing is reflected in book markets around the world, who are reporting strong increases in kids’ book sales,” head book buyer Joan Mackenzie said.

“Our own experience is that kids are reading more than ever before, and rather than reading digitally – which is what you might expect from the younger generations – they want real books.”

While making no claims to be an expert, she suspected kids now spent so much time on digital devices that they appreciated time with something else.

“My own child said to me years ago that there is absolutely no satisfaction in reading a book electronically, because you don’t see the heft of what you have just managed to read.

“If a kid reads a 200 to 300-page book that’s a really big achievement. But if you read electronically you don’t see that. And also you don’t see the cover every time you go to your book. You don’t pick it up and instantly relate to the thing you are reading.”

As for the books they are consuming, the Harry Potter series is back at No 1, followed by Roald Dahl’s BFG and local favourite Hairy Maclary and Friends. Newcomers include the Tom Gates and Skulduggery Pleasant series. Enid Blyton classics The Magic Faraway Tree and the Famous Five have made comebacks.

Mackenzie suspects parents have a strong influence.

“I think most parents who are readers and want their kids to be readers try to pass on to them things they loved when they were younger.”

Dahl’s books were the kind passed on from generation to generation.

“So are things like Dr Seuss. Parents buy those books because they know them.”

Author: Jacqui Stanford
Twitter: @jacquistanford

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