INFOGRAPHIC: The Surprising Reading Habits of Millennials

by Brendan Brown | May 1, 2024, 12:53 pm

When teens and young adults are immersed on their smartphone, what do you think they’re doing? Scrolling their Instagram feed? Chatting to friends on Facebook? Watching a video on YouTube?

There’s a good chance they’re actually reading a book.

Forget the stereotypes we often associate with Millennials. They’re voracious readers – it’s just that their reading habits are different to previous generations.

In this infographic we explore the reading preferences of Millennials and the results may surprise you.

New research suggests that Millennials read more than their parents. In fact, Millennials read more than any other age group. 80% of young adults have read a book in any format over the last year, including 72% having read a print copy.

Other surprising facts about the reading habits of Millennials include:

  • The average Millennial reads 5 books per year.
  • Millennials are more likely than any other age group to visit public libraries.
  • Contrary to popular belief, they will prefer print books to digital ones. In fact, when it comes to studying 92% of college students prefer physical academic books to digital alternatives.

What does this mean? Besides upending a few misconceptions about Millennials, the book industry is also probably in a healthier state than we give it credit for. Demand for new books is actually being driven by younger readers.

Book publishing statistics back this up. Although book sales in traditional bricks and mortar stores have been declining for years, the overall trend industry trend is positive. The worldwide publishing industry was worth around $111 billion in 2018 and has been growing about 1% annually for the last 5 years.

Check out our infographic below for more fun and surprising facts about the reading habits of Millennials.

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There are many misconceptions surrounding millennials; they tend to be lazy, they have it all, they change jobs quite often, they are tech addicts, they are careless with money, etc. – these are nothing but generalizations that lack substantial evidence.

Similarly, popular perception states that being tech addicts, these young adults reject the idea of reading and even if they consider it, their preference towards print books is negligible – yet again, another generalization that is not true.

People belonging to the 1981 – 1996 birth group, i.e., millennials, have a strong inclination towards reading print books as opposed to digital versions – they are avid readers and read an average of five books annually.

This must sound surprising to many, but it is credited by well-documented facts, figures and observations.

Millennials Read More Than Their Parents And Other Generations

It has been observed that millennials read more than their parents; in fact, they read more than any other generation. This is simply because there are many mediums to access books, including printed books, digital books and audiobooks, and 80% of them will read books in any of these formats.

However, their inclination towards print books is much more than the other two, as an astounding 72% prefer this medium.

Additionally, while you might believe that this age group only uses their phone as a source of entertainment, the fact is that at least 35% of them read e-books – 15% read on tablets, 22% use a phone, 16% use a laptop and 5% use Kindle or other digital readers.

Also, the younger generation prefers digital books if they are under promotion or may have added benefits such as; free print copies, free devices or the option to pay per chapter rather than for the entire book.

For a great comparison of the reading habits of all 5 generations, check out the research done by Nomadrs.

Millennials Trump Other Generations In Using Public Libraries

Despite their modern ways, many millennials choose the conventional method of sourcing books, i.e., by visiting a public library or a local bookstore.

In fact, the demand for new books by younger readers has significantly increased – for the last five years, the global publishing industry has been growing by one percent per annum.

Compared to past generations, 53% of them claim to have visited a bookmobile or library in the past year, whereas 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and only 36% of people belonging to the ‘silent generation’ have done the same.

It is also considered a boost for bookstores that 56% of people belonging to the 18 to 34 age group are known to purchase books rather than borrowing them – and 40% of millennials are willing to pay more to support their local community.

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They Keep Themselves Well-Informed By Reading Rather Than Listening

Millennials are highly proactive; they are always seeking ways to broaden their horizons with a thirst for knowledge and learning new things.

As such, it’s only that natural that a majority of them, i.e. 93%, prefer reading for research purposes as opposed to prior generations who account for 66%.

But that’s not all – these young adults also read to keep themselves entertained and enlightened. For instance, 93% of them read poems, short stories, or novels outside their course curriculum to keep themselves entertained.

Positive Reviews Influence Millennials To Purchase A Book

Authors like John Grisham, Charles Dickens, J. K. Rowling and Mark Twain are globally renowned; books written by them were usually sold like hotcakes.

Now, things are slightly different; the purchase decision is focused more on the price and the cover, rather than how good the author is. Hence, influencers, reference groups and reviews play a critical role in helping consumers make a purchase decision.

For example, a blogger who is targeting a particular niche such as safety gear in factories would have a strong follower base of people who maintain and manage factory operations.

So, if you publish a book called “Ensuring health and safety standards in a manufacturing facility,” – you can reach out to that particular blogger to recommend your book – and all of their followers would want to purchase it.

Simply put, this is considered a highly credible source as one in three millennials read blogs to understand business products and to narrow down what they should purchase.

Similarly, YouTube has become a popular medium to influence book purchases, as 60% of young adults purchase a product after they see it on this medium.

But that’s not all – the end-decision also depends on reviews of the book as eight out of ten millennials look them up online before placing an order.

Additionally, 54% rely on word of mouth, 20% read through reviews on social media and 18% depend on online communities.

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Bestsellers Do Not Top The Charts For More Than Four Weeks

Considering the buying behaviour of millennials, not many books remain in the bestselling category for over four weeks – ever since the 1980s, only Fifty Shades of Grey, The Da Vinci Code and The Bridges of Madison County have been marked as bestsellers for around 20 weeks.

In short, with so many books being downloaded on e-book readers and physically purchased – the road to reach the top and stay there is quite challenging.

All In All

The fact of the matter is that the publishing industry is growing – and to augment it further, millennials should be targeted through popular channels such as influencer marketing. After all, this demographic makes for a significant chunk of readers today.

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