Picture book report: buying and reading habits of parents

Chris Stead
 | Updated May 17, 2021

Picture book report: buying and reading habits of parents

Chris Stead
 | Updated May 17, 2021

The results of our children's picture book survey with parents from across the world are in. Read the full report.

Full wrap cover for The Little Green Boat for picture book survey

We designed all the covers for the Willy Nilly book series so they can wrap front to back when printed.

At Old Mate Media, we make children’s picture books. And a children’s picture book is bought by a parent or grandparent to read to the little people in their lives. So in order to best deliver our books to the people who love reading them to children, we conducted a picture book survey. This gave us a great insight into your reading and picture book buying habits. If you missed it, it’s not too late to have your say, we'd still love to hear from you.

The results were quite illuminating and show that while there is plenty of negative press out there about how starved our children are of great literature, parents are still taking books to heart. Old Mate Media still does a lot of work with traditional magazines and through that channel we're privy to sales data - did you know that in the print sector, there are only two genres on the rise? Cookbooks and children’s books. So it is no surprise that for many of you, reading a picture book to your child is a core part of the daily routine. And good on you!

Here is a breakdown of our picture book survey results. Please note: This survey focused in on parents of young children (who would read picture books) and on the two stores that sell the most about of books in this genre. We placed a link to the survey in locations where parents could find it - mothers groups, new parents forums, toddler hashtags and so forth.

Reading Time is Not Negotiable

Parents in our picture book survey declared reading to their children to be very important! More than 70% of respondents read books to their child at least once a day, and sometimes more. Story time retains the special feeling that most of us would remember from our childhood, with one respondent commenting:

Reading has been the biggest gift given between my daughter and myself. We share stories, experiences and fun when reading and I would love for my daughter to be able to learn, educate herself, escape and have the wildest of dreams. I know that reading can give all of that to her and more!

How often do parents read to children?

Parents are a Thrifty Bunch

We all know that keeping a child alive, fed and educated in the modern world is expensive, and that is reflected in our book buying habits. Nearly half of book “purchases” made by the parents in this picture book survey were either second-hand (34%) or came from the library (11%).

Traditional bookstores are still competing, providing 20% of our respondents’ books. But online options are definitely on the rise, with 17% of book sales coming from online stores. This was also reflected in the ideal price point for eBooks. More than 83% preferring to keep the price of the eBook under $5.00 - we offered price points in the survey based off the common price bands for the genre by Amazon.

How much will parents spend on a children's book?

Apple’s iOS The Dominant Mobile Device

Whilst many of our picture book survey respondents expressed some concern about the level of screen time experienced by children, the vast majority (93.3%) used some form of device with their kids. Of these, Apple remains the dominant player. This despite the ground made by Android devices in recent years, with nearly 60% using either an iPad or an iPhone.

What device to parents use with children?

For our respondents, the most popular place to buy an eBook was the App Store. 40% of all eBook purchases occurred there. Amazon/Kindle was not far behind with 26%, but it does reflect the overall dominance of Apple when it comes to tablets and phones used by parents.

What store to parents by eBooks at?

eBooks Still a Growing Market

Many of our respondents stick to reading print books with their children, with 50% owning no eBooks. The reasons for this varied greatly. Some simply did not know about eBooks. Others could not find any suitable options. Screen time was an issue raised by a few respondents. While some simply prefer the tactile nature of books. As one respondent commented:

Our daughter loves turning the pages and making up her own stories from the pictures as well as deciding which hard copy book to read from her little library.

Or one of my favourites:

Children are dangerous. It's bad enough them tearing pages out of a book (which is becoming less frequent for the eldest), let alone having them throw the iPad across the room in a tantrum. Or just throwing it on the floor because their attention span is short. There is nothing worse than watching your phone or tablet hit the floor. Lucky they make great screen protectors these days.

This information has spurred us even more to get our books into print in the future. Sign up here if you’d like to receive a special preorder price on our print books. Or if you’d like to try an eBook, but you’re not sure how, read our guide here.

Are you a reader who feels that an eBook cannot deliver a suitable experience you can share with a child? If so, we invite you to read the article Why Parents Should Give Children’s eBooks a Try or if you want something more detailed, 16 Ways Children’s eBooks can be Better than Printed Books.

How many eBooks have parents bought?

We Trust Our Friends More Than Apple

Finally, as with so many things, our friends are our favourite referrers for children’s picture books. In fact, 66% of our respondents trusted recommendations from friends to guide their book purchases. This is also reflected in the 48% who looked at positive reviews from others. In fact, one of our biggest headaches with our releases is encouraging people to review the books. Even family and good friends, whose kids love our books, don’t review. We invite you to read up more on why reviewing eBooks is important.

Why parents don't read ebooks to children

The Next Generation Will Be Readers

Old Mate Media's children's picture books are made by its founder Chris Stead. He is passionate about reading well-written, beautiful stories to his children. Stories that fire the imagination, bring out the giggles and stay in the mind. He believes this inspires them to become readers for life (for more on his history see here). But he also believes it is important to make the most out of the digital format. It has been lovely to hear from parents across the world who are doing the same for their kids. Thank you – and keep reading. Perhaps you might like to browse our titles.

Chris Stead

Chris Stead is an award-winning author and editor with over 26-years of experience in the publishing industry. After publishing over 1000 magazines and launching a dozen commercial websites, fatherhood saw him turn his attention to the world of children's picture books and self-publishing. He now makes books for himself and countless indie authors around the globe.

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One comment on “Picture book report: buying and reading habits of parents”

  1. Such helpful information to know as I prepare for my book release! This is the info most of us don't have access to so thank you for sharing it here, you are so appreciated!

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