Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) hopes to get a Nook device in the hands of every person in your family, except maybe your baby. Babies, it turns out, are a notoriously poor e-book audience.
“We are just at the dawn of digital for kids’ books,” said Kevin O’Conner, Nook Kids director of business development/content acquisitions at a Publishers Launch Conferences “Children’s Publishing Goes Digital” panel this morning, O’Conner and his product development colleague Wendy Bronfin shared their findings on what works for children’s e-books. (They did not speak to recent news of a possible Nook spinoff.) Some takeaways:
» When Barnes & Noble started developing Nook three years ago, the question was “should we be doing this for kids and families,” said Bronfin. Now, according to the company, 93 percent of parents agree that reading books with kids on Nook is a valuable experience and 93 percent “feel good about” their kids reading these books.
» Bestselling kids’ e-book categories: Movie character tie-ins. Kid humor and transgressive humor (kid testers like the Nook commercials where a kid is jumping on a bed). Zoo animals. Holiday books, whether they’re licensed characters, classic tales or hardcover “highbrow” books. Gender divide: “Very very boy and very very girl content really, really works,” said O’Conner.
» Nook read-aloud (interactive “Read and Play” and “Read to Me”) books do very well. “I beg you, beg you, beg you to create audio for your e-books,” O’Conner said.
» Baby books have been the hardest. “If it came out in board book first, it will be hard to sell digitally,” O’Conner said, noting that babies like to put books in their mouths.
» Bronfin reiterated Bowker’s findings that parents are sharing e-readers and tablets with their kids and passing down first-generation devices when they upgrade.