Whether the credit goes to great teachers, J.K. Rowling, the Hunger Games series or the 10-year-old boon in Young Adult fiction, millennials now read far more books than those over 30 years of age. This flies in the face of perceptions that, with video games, online activities, social media and more media stimuli, reading would seem old-fashioned and younger people would not have the attention span to become engrossed in a novel or other type of book. However, the fact is 43 percent claim they open up a book and read on a daily basis, with the median number of books read in a given year about 10.
Overall, more than 80 percent of Americans age 16 and over read a book in the past 12 months, with slightly more having read a book (approximately 88 percent) who were between the ages of 16 and 29. In fact, the group between 18-24 has the highest reading rate of any age group. Young adults consume books any way they can get them; they are likely to purchase books, borrow them from others, use e-books or listen to audiobooks. More than any other group, they like to read to learn more about topics that interest them. Surprisingly, those age 65 and up, who presumably have a lot more time to read, have the lowest rate, with only 68 percent reading a book the prior year.
School requirements do affect the amount of reading and subject choices for those under 30, but they also read a lot for pleasure and to keep up with current events. In a Pew Research Group survey of nearly 3,000 Americans, 81 percent of those age 30 and up read for pleasure versus 76 percent for those 16-29.
Additionally, millennials use a library far more than older adults. This probably reflects a combination of still being in school and having less discretionary funds.
By format, 72 percent of books read was in print, with 16 percent having read at least one e-book and 11 percent having listened to an audiobook. Surprisingly given the younger generation’s proclivity for technology tools, most e-book readers are in their 30s and 40s.
E-books continue to be popular, with those over 30 tending to use e-readers and tablets. Younger readers more often use their smart phone or computer, according to Pew.
People who do read via Kindles or iPads tend to read more books than those who only consume the printed word. The e-readers devour 24 books a year versus 15 for the print aficionados. But, the data does show that print books are still big for people of all ages, including those who have grown up with smartphones and the Internet.
Another interesting fact in the research on book use in today’s modern media age is that more people read books than in previous generations. In 1957, only 25 percent of Americans were reading a book. By 2005, that number had almost doubled, according to Gallup Poll data. Now, given the latest Pew Research book reading information, it appears that the number has risen again with millennials leading the charge to read more.
By Dyanne Weiss