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The three Rs remain an important part of the school curriculum in the UK, with the government putting even more emphasis on them in recent times. Outside of school, though, the first R—reading—is being affected by digital habits.
According to June 2015 research by YouGov for educational publisher Scholastic, 43% of children ages 6 to 17 had read an ebook for fun. But while physical titles still fared well among the youngest age brackets, late teens were much more likely to turn away from paper. While 64% of 6- to 8-year-olds said most of the books they read for fun were print books, among 15- to 17-year-olds, that proportion was just 49%.
Even before they get to the reading part, though, those in the teen cohort are more likely than their younger counterparts to head to digital platforms for discovery. The research also found that smaller proportions of teens used "old-fashioned" sources in their search for books—38% used libraries vs. 54% of 6- to 11-year-olds, for example. And while these traditional resources remained the most popular among all ages, larger proportions of teens relied on digital sources—27% used websites, while a further 28% relied on social media; those proportions for 6-to-11-year-olds were just 15% and 6%, respectively.
One thing that bodes well for the ebook industry, and the book publishing industry overall, is that these digital readers seem to be willing to shell out for their media. June 2015 research by Kantar Media for the UK's Intellectual Property Office, for example, found that just 31% of UK internet users ages 12 and up accessed digital books exclusively for free—this was vs. 50% who did so for music and 76% for software.
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