Reader Friday: What About Those Millennials?

millennialsA new report finds that Millennials (those born roughly between 1982 and 2000) are less likely to purchase ebooks than any other age group, with 63% of 16-24 year-olds saying they have never bought one, The director of the study said, “[I]t is clear from our research that authors, publishers and retailers must do more to appeal to younger audiences in order to remain commercially relevant.”

What do you think the future is for authors, especially indies living off ebooks, with the Millennials? Will they grow into readers? Will they buy ebooks? Or, with so much vying for their attention, is the very idea of spending time with a novel destined to become a relic of the past?

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11 thoughts on “Reader Friday: What About Those Millennials?

  1. I was born in 1985, and mostly read ONLY e-books. I own a very fine Kindle Paperwhite, which makes reading process so much easier than hold an imposing volume on my knees. Besides, most e-books are cheaper than paperback, and I can buy more. I think that e-books do have a future with the younger people, because they’re glued to their tablets/phones all the time, and it’s so much easier to one-click buy a book on Amazon than order a paperback and wait for days to be able to read it. Nothing is absolute, some will never buy an e-book, others will convert to adore them, like me.

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    • The advent of cloud storage and reading off multiple devices makes owning a digital library very easy to access. And I totally agree with your love of one click purchasing, Lisa. Ditto.

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  2. That 16-24 age group are probably still living at home with their parents buying everything for them, including their reading. If they’re like my nieces and nephews and friends in their mid twenties, they are content with that arrangement, and their parents complain yet feed into it.

    If that report didn’t take into account the living arrangements and financial support, then its results shouldn’t be taken on face value.

    I think there are a lot of young readers out there, influenced by “big books” like Harry Potter and Hunger Games. Their parents usually buy their books and even read along with them. I’m not worried about this report. Our battle as authors has always been waged against those who don’t read, no matter what their age. That hasn’t changed. Big, popular and influential books keep bringing in new readers of all ages. I celebrate that.

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  3. I was born in 1984, so guess that makes me a Millennial. I read a lot but I don’t read ebooks and there’s a few reasons for this.

    Firstly I just prefer reading a physical book to reading on a screen. I’ve been reading since a very early age (starting with things like Postman Pat) and I just don’t enjoy reading on a screen as much. I can thank my parents for introducing me to reading and nurturing a love of books that continues to this day.

    Secondly I spend a lot of time looking at screens anyway. Writing, watching TV, reading news websites, playing games etc. so I don’t want to spend even more time looking at screen when I read. Not only because I like variety, but also because it just isn’t healthy to spend all the time looking at a screen. I also most commonly read in bed at night as a way to wind down before going to sleep, and there’s plenty of research to say that looking at screens before trying to sleep makes it harder to sleep.

    Thirdly, a book is a much more resilient format. I’ve had a water pipe burst over my bookcase and drench a load of books, but they have still been for the most part readable. If the same thing happened to my Kindle I’d be without my entire book collection for as long as it took to replace the Kindle. If I lose a book, I can probably replace it for under £10. If I lose a Kindle or it stops working, I’m looking at a much larger expense. It’s the whole “all your eggs in one basket” situation for the 21st Century!

    Fourthly, I get many of my books as Birthday and Christmas presents. You can’t really wrap an ebook. 😉

    You pose a few questions as well, so here are my answers for a couple.

    “Will they grow into readers?” I think it’s important to remember that you can be an avid reader and a Millennial without being a reader of ebooks. In the last 6 months I’ve read 30 novels (currently on novel 31, I’m keeping a record of what I read this year which is actually quite interesting and fun.) But not one of them has been an ebook. It’s not the content that puts me off reading ebooks, but the format. Whilst I do own a Kindle and a few ebooks, I just cannot get on with them and I’ve tried. I find it a lot more comfortable to look at and hold a paperback book than a kindle/tablet, so even though it may take a few days or longer to get the paperback over an ebook download, I’ll wait up to a year or more for a paperback to come out rather than buy the ebook/hardback edition.

    You also ask: “Or, with so much vying for their attention, is the very idea of spending time with a novel destined to become a relic of the past?” I really hope not. Whilst I enjoy TV series, films, computer games, comics etc. my first love is reading fiction novels and it’s something I hope to continue to enjoy for the rest of my life. And should I ever have kids, I hope that they will also enjoy reading.

    Finally I will just say that a love of reading isn’t something that just appears out of nowhere. I think it really falls on parents, teachers and other adults in a child’s life. If you introduce a child to reading at an early age, and you make it something fun and enjoyable rather than a task, then they will probably love it too.

    All the Best,

    Matthew.

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  4. If this report is accurate it surprises me. I would think with the Millennial generation being so computer literate they would love ebooks. Physical bookshelves can become an eye sore, overflowing and collecting dust. Whereas an ebook reader can store ten times the amount, allowing the reader to shuffle between titles with ease. Mind you, I’m nowhere near a Millennial. Perhaps that’s why I have this mindset. Let’s hope the report is wrong. Have a fun, happy, and safe 4th of July!

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    • I will have to refer to Cicero on this one:

      “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

      To me bookshelves overflowing with books are a wonderful sight, where as a Kindle or Tablet just doesn’t really add much to a room.

      All the Best,

      Matthew.

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  5. As a parent of two millenial-aged children, I will say that I think they are both avid readers of hard copy books. I think Matthew is correct in his point about the different reading experience that is offered by paper books. Studies have shown that the brain actually functions in different ways when reading books vs. ebooks. I agree with Matthew–Millenials spend so much time online, they may crave the solitude and deep-brain experience of reading regular books. I think that’s a point in their favor. Some Oldsters like me are rapidly developing attention span deficits because we flit about online at the expense of sustained focus and concentration. I like the fact that Millenials, raised with screen technology, are wise enough to keep it in its place.

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  6. My son and daughter are like that. They both love printed books. My daughter haunts her local library and used book sales. I find this all encouraging.

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  7. I hang out with a bunch of millennials (in my knitting group of all things) and they read a great deal–they just don’t buy a lot of paper books. They get them from the library, as ebooks, or as audio books. Part of the millennial ethos is to not have as many physical possessions as older generations–so possession of paper books isn’t something that appeals to them. Also, all of the ones I know are adults, with full-time jobs, living on their own.

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  8. Having just had my first Booksigning event today, I have to plug print books because you can’t autograph an ebook!

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