Today we are going to look at the surprising facts behind younger readers and the book publishing industry. According to some recent studies, millennials are more likely than any other age group to visit libraries. I’m not talking about university or college libraries—I’m talking about public libraries for the purpose of borrowing reading materials.
And now, Hooked, an app aimed at the 14 to 24-year-old market, has become the top grossing book app for Apple and Android. New research shows that millennials lead other generations in reading. Hooked and other software for reading have become more integrated with our smartphones. This huge shift points to a modernization of publishing practices and the need to focus on digitization more than ever.
Millennials Are Avid Readers
According to the latest Pew Research Center on book reading, 18 to 29-year-olds are the age group most likely to read a book in any format over the last year. Over 80% have done so compared to 73% of 30 to 49-year-olds, and only 70% of 50 to 65-year-olds have read a book in the last year. When asked why they read books, millennials are far more likely than older adults to say it’s for a specific purpose such as work or school; but they are equally likely to read for pleasure or to keep up with current events. These studies echo a recent report from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) showing that 18 to 35-year-olds widely outmatch other age groups in the number of books purchased and read.
So what to take away from all of this? The American Library Association comes out with a materials survey every year. The survey for 2016 shows that between 12-15% of their materials budget is now spent on audiobooks and another 10-15% is spent on eBooks, with between 40-60% being spent on print books. (The remainder spent on non-book reading material)
Millennials Sample All Book Formats
It is vital in this day and age that we offer our published books in every format available. Audio, eBook, and Print; but also in subscription settings and downloadable formats offered through companies such as ProQuest and even apps like Hooked.
The preferences of younger readers are the lifeblood in the future of our sales and of our books successes in the oncoming years. We need to pay attention to what young people are reading but also how they are reading. Our publishing practices need to reflect their desires not just our own preferences.
After years of weakening and dropping hardcover sales, children and young adult (YA) books have started to show a recent climb in hardcover sales. More and more children’s and YA books are coming out in hardcover to support the desire of the marketplace.
It’s not enough to pay just attention to what we think we know about formats and reading. It is vital that we stay connected to the facts and the actual reading habits of the avid readers we are trying to attract.
Millennials Embrace Digital Formats & Mobile Devices
According to this Forbes article young people are still consuming plenty of electronic text even as traditional publishing reports eBooks sales are soft. The same Pew Foundation analysis shows that millennials who follow the news are more likely than any other generation of readers to prefer reading. Though the vast majority of news-reading young adults prefer to read online, millennials are not giving up traditional books, but they are trending more towards phones and tablets.
With this focus on young people and millennials, I am not recommending that we turn our back on the other generations of readers. I am simply suggesting that when setting our plans and budgets for publishing we keep all formats in mind. Let's scan the horizon for the next platform for our books and content. Subscription services, SMS subscriptions, apps like Hooked—these are just the beginning. Stay alert and stay awake my friends. It’s going to be a fantastic year!
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