New research reveals print habits die hard with millennial readers

Millennials are more likely to read printed books than ebooks, according to new research by publishing services company, Publishing Technology.

The survey, which polled 2,000 consumers across the U.S. and U.K., aged between 18 and 34, found that in the last year, nearly twice as many respondents had read a print book (71 per cent), than an ebook on any device – the closest being a tablet (37 per cent). Showing no strong allegiance, young consumers also reported reading ebooks on dedicated ereaders (29 per cent), mobile phones (27 per cent) and personal computers (25 per cent).

The personal touch is still of vital importance for millennials who would rather acquire printed books from chain book shops (47 per cent) as opposed to online retailers (39 per cent). When purchasing ebooks, 51 per cent of millennials would favour an ereading app with 40 per cent acquiring ebooks directly from their ereading devices and 19 per cent using subscription services.

When it comes to discovering and sharing books, although online communities and social media play an important role in millennials’ lives, the research shows how essential offline communication is for this young demographic. Millennials mostly discover print and ebooks by word of mouth referrals (36 per cent), online browsing (26 per cent), and social media (24 per cent), while 23 per cent of those polled reported finding books browsing in brick-and-mortar book shops.

Millennial readers are not a generation of sharers. But they do recommend books and share opinions with their peers via word of mouth (40 per cent), social media (26 per cent), and online communities (16 per cent). This group could be persuaded to read more on electronic devices by price promotions (45 per cent), more ebook/print book bundling (26 per cent) and shorter content forms (10 per cent) or pay-per-chapter ebooks (9 per cent).

Michael Cairns, Publishing Technology CEO, said: “We undertook this research to better understand the reading habits and test our assumptions about a generation of young people born and raised in the digital era. We were quite surprised to discover that 18-34 year-olds are not as ‘online-only’ as we, in the publishing industry, often assume.” 

He continued: “This rising cohort of book-buyers relies on peers for suggestions of what to read, often prefers cheaper, smaller bites that can be shared freely, and revels in the luxury of being able to read whenever and wherever it likes – regardless of format or platform. To engage with these readers now and cultivate them for tomorrow, publishers need to target multiple channels for their content and integrate with this generation’s social lives, both on and offline. And the physical book world and print-based publishing still plays a very active role in this.”

The survey How Millennials Consume Content was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Publishing Technology. The full results can be accessed at

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