A Pew report released today suggests the future for books and libraries is bright because younger Americans are still reading as much as their elders.
The findings offer another, more hopeful facet to the evolving portrait of millennials’ reading habits, at a time when other recent research shows that demographic putting down books in favor of other media, a concern widely echoed in the publishing world.
Instead, Pew researchers found teenagers and young adults are neck-and-neck or even slightly ahead of older Americans when it comes to reading. 88% of the 30-and-under crowd reported reading a book in the past year, a rate higher than the 79% of those aged 30 and over who reported doing so.
That’s good news for ebooks, too. “Young adults have caught up to those in their thirties and forties in e-reading,” the report’s authors write. 37% of 18-29 year-olds report having read an ebook in the past year. And that’s despite findings that indicate millennials are more likely to be skeptical of digital media when it comes to seeking out information.
If millennials aren’t turning to libraries to fill that role as a result, they’re not turning away from them, either, the study found. Younger Americans are more likely than older groups to utilize library technology, but they tend to place less value on those resources.
In-person public library attendance continues to fall among all age groups, while the use of library websites is rising, driven largely by younger patrons. “36% of younger Americans used a library website last year,” the report finds, “up from 28% in 2012, with the largest growth occurring among 16-17 year-olds (from 23% to 35%).”
Millennials’ habits when it comes to reading and library use may differ from those of their parents, but these findings suggest they aren’t falling off wholesale. The challenge for publishers and libraries will be in continuing to offer younger readers the resources they’re looking for, and in forms they want.
The full Pew report is here.
Chart credit: Pew Research Center