From phrases and letters engraved on wooden planks and animal skin to published books and now mobile devices, we believe reading never left us, nor will it ever exit the human world. Nevertheless, evolution is the essence of life and reading is an integral part of changes within society. Reading habits across generations have been subject to change to catch up with the rapid changes in our lifestyle. So, for instance, while it may still be more relaxing to hold a book and sip coffee in your personal corner, lack of time has become an arch-nemesis for us and our book-reading habits, making us highly dependent on technological advancements.
The debate is no longer restricted to which generation reads the most but has extended to the mediums that different generations use and how reading habits across generations have thus changed in the past few years. Surveys have analyzed reading habits by generations such as Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation to reveal that it is the Millennials who are more inclined to turn a page rather than to scroll a tab.
A comparison of ‘Millennial reading habits’ with ‘Generation Z reading habits’ shows that those between the ages of 23 to 38 prefer the traditional manner of reading a book while all those who are too young to be eligible for this category, aka Generation Z tend to favor e-books or online reading and like to have something handier than a book: a mobile phone or a tablet.
Reading to relax or learn?
So, it’s not just about asking which generation reads the most but also questions like why do they read and what do they read which serve as an indicator of how reading habits by generational preference vary from one generation to the other. It was concluded that millennials mostly read to relax and would prefer paper over tech. Furthermore, the category of books piled onto their bookshelves would mostly be classics or novels rather than academic books. In contrast to millennial reading habits, the Z kids (generation z), confessed that their reading routine was usually dominated by academic books since more than half of their day was spent studying and researching. Nevertheless, lack of time doesn’t mean that our newest generation doesn’t love a good book; it just shows that prior generations are ‘done’ with their learning phase and can go back to their fairytale or once upon a time era.
Has technology really taken over?
Have libraries become extinct, or have bookstores and publishing houses become bankrupt? Not really. There was indeed a time at the beginning of the ‘smartphones and tabs era’ when e-book became such a hit amongst almost every generation’s reading habits that there was a panic amidst publishers and bookstores about losing their worth and their business.
However, traditional books soon made a comeback as even generation Z started to get exhausted from all the eye pressure which was required to read on a mobile phone or tablet. The high price of e-books became another reason why conventional book reading took the lead once again. Having said that, however, both generations admitted that their reading habits were not confined to ‘a book they could carry’ but rather to multiple mediums, depending on convenience and spare time. There has also been a debate about whether hard-covers have now taken a back seat within millennial reading habits while generation Z is ironically more inclined to buy hard-cover books. Have we really drifted from those heavy Harry Potter originals to lightweight copies?
Baby boomers and silent generation ironically prefer hard-covers rather than paper-back books. Perhaps because they feel that a hard-cover book is more nostalgic and takes them back to their “times”.
What about the Genre?
Even though the genre has more to do with an individual’s persona and personal preferences rather than an entire generation’s reading habits, studies indicate that a vast majority in every generation (from generation Z to silent generation), favors fiction over non-fiction books! Even generation Z, which is compelled to read mostly academic books, would read fantasy for pleasure. The same preference chart applis to generation X, baby boomer and the silent generation!
No surprises there! After all, whether it’s an e-book, a hard-cover, or a paperback novel, books are the most promising and economically friendly escape from the real world and its endless struggles.