Survey Finds Millennials Prefer Print Books, Physical Bookstores

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Recent research has found that people born between 1982 and 2004 — the generation known as Millennials — are more interested in print rather than digital reading.

Publishing Perspectives, an online trade journal for the international publishing industry, recently released the white paper “Designing Books for Tomorrow’s Readers: How Millennials Consume Content.” The report is based on data gained from the responses of 1,000 Millennials in the U.S. to a survey commissioned by industry software and service provider Publishing Technology.

Millennials feel more allegiance to print books compared to e-books, according to the survey. In fact, 36 percent of those polled said they spent more money on print books than on e-books in the previous year, Publishing Perspectives’ Erin L. Cox reported.

Though e-book reading is on the rise, 79 percent of respondents had read a print book in the last year, which is more than twice as many as those who read an e-book in the last year on any device. Among those who did read e-books, 46 percent said they use a tablet for their digital reading; 37 percent use personal computers; 36 percent said they use their mobile phones; and 31 percent use dedicated e-reader devices.

What should be encouraging to bricks-and-mortar booksellers is the survey’s finding that more Millennials buy their print books from an array of physical bookstores more so than from online retailers. While 40 percent of respondents said they go online to buy their print books, 52 percent of respondents also said they buy from chain bookstores, 45 percent said they go to used bookstores, and 32 percent said they go to independent bookstores.

Millennials also gravitate toward offline and non-digital methods when it comes to both recommending and discovering new books to buy, according to the white paper.

“For people from older generations who were raised in a one-screen world, the ‘always online’ behavior of Millennials is often misinterpreted,” according to the Publishing Perspectives white paper. “For example, though the media describes Millennials as living only online, offline communication is vital to book discovery and sharing for this age group.”

Forty-five percent of the Millennials surveyed said they discover the new books/e-books they purchase and/or read through word-of-mouth referrals. Comparatively, 34 percent of those polled said they get most of their new book ideas on social media, and 21 percent said they get ideas through online communities like Goodreads.

In-store discovery is also a key factor for Millennials, with 28 percent of of those surveyed reporting that they discover new books simply by browsing in bookstores. Publishing Perspectives’ white paper cites bookseller Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, founder and co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York, who said she hosts events both in the store and in locations around the neighborhood to stimulate the conversation amongst her customers, many of whom are Millennials. In this way, Greenlight has become a curator for both content and discussion for these readers.

Additionally, 54 percent of Millennials say they personally recommend books through word of mouth, while 20 percent reported they recommend books to others via social media, and 18 percent chiefly do so by way of online communities.

The study’s findings reveal that reading is still a vital part of this current generation’s media landscape, said Publishing Technology CEO Michael Cairns.