Why Do Parents Prefer Paper Books Over E-Books?

In most cases, sales of e-books for the iPad, Kindle, Nook and other digital platforms are skyrocketing. In some categories for adult books, e-books comprise a full 25% of sales. Yet this isn't the case with children's books. E-books aimed at children under eight years old have stagnated at just five percent. Here's a look at five reasons why parents prefer paper for their kids.

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1. The Tangible Experience

Though this is almost certain to change within a matter of years, today's parents have vivid memories of the books they read as children only existing in paper form. They hold a nostalgia for Dr. Seuss or Winnie the Pooh stories on a printed page and they want their children to share in those fond memories. There is also an intimacy involved with reading a paper-based book while a child sits on a parent's lap that is missing with e-books. Turning pages together is a physical experience that e-books don't effectively mimic.

Furthermore, unlike books for adults, which are largely uniform in shape, children's books come in an endless variety of sizes, shapes and textures. There are wide books with elaborate pictures and board books with pages small fingers can more easily turn. Then there are books with elements that allow for physical interaction, like pop-up books, books with moving parts and books that teach about how different objects feel. These books help children develop motor skills and an understanding of the world in ways that aren't possible with a uniform, perpetually flat Kindle screen.

2. Kids Break Stuff

While digital devices continue to improve in durability, they seem destined to always be more fragile and more expensive to replace than paper books. An adult may accidentally drop a cell phone on the sidewalk, but this is hopefully a rare and unintentional act; children will toss a book across the room, draw on it with crayons or hit it with a toy just to learn what happens. Raising a child is an expensive endeavor, which makes disposable and low cost paper books highly appealing.

3. A Better Preview Mode

When an adult wants to buy a novel, he or she may read a few pages first, but not the whole book. This isn't the case with children's books. Whether it's a grandparent looking over a gift or a parent wanting to monitor the content of what he or she will put in a child's hands, children's books are often previewed cover to cover before purchase. This is universally possible with paper books, and it's also why children's books are many local bookstores' best friends. The wider availability of paper-based children's books at book stores and libraries, compared to e-books, is also a factor in their dominance.

4. They're Just Books

Most parents will attest to the fact that children have plenty of distractions available to them. Books don't need to be one more. While reading a book on an iPad, for example, a child can be distracted by the device's games, web browser and its countless other bells and whistles. A book, then, is just a book. It provides a simple activity that isn't hampered by flashing lights and noise.

5. They're Always Ready

One of paper-based books' greatest assets is that they don't require batteries. They never lose power and need to be recharged. For any parent who has dealt with a child throwing a tantrum over a toy with dead batteries, this makes e-books an unpleasant addition to the pile of electricity-sapping toys and devices. A paper-based book is ready at any point in a car trip, no matter when it's found at the back of a closet and, perhaps most importantly, whenever your child wants to read it.

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