New Study: Facebook Generation DOES Read!
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has taken a special look at readers between the ages of 16 and 29, because interest in them is especially high in the worlds of libraries and publishing. This report examines how they encounter and consume books in different formats. It flows out of a larger effort to assess the reading habits of all Americans ages 16 and older as e-books change the reading landscape and the borrowing services of libraries.
More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library. At the youngest end of the spectrum, high schoolers in their late teens (ages 16-17) and college-aged young adults (ages 18-24) are especially likely to have read a book or used the library in the past 12 months. And although their library usage patterns may often be influenced by the requirements of school assignments, their interest in the possibilities of mobile technology may also point the way toward opportunities of further engagement with libraries later in life.
The main findings in this report, including all statistics and quantitative data, are from a nationally-representative phone survey of 2,986 people ages 16 and older that was administered from November 16-December 21, 2011. This report also contains the voices and insights of an online panel of library patrons ages 16-29 who borrow e-books, fielded in the spring of 2012.
Among the main findings:
- 83% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year. Some 75% read a print book, 19% read an e-book, and 11% listened to an audiobook.
- Among Americans who read e-books, those under age 30 are more likely to read their e-books on a cell phone (41%) or computer (55%) than on an e-book reader such as a Kindle (23%) or tablet (16%).
- Overall, 47% of younger Americans read long-form e-content such as books, magazines or newspapers. E-content readers under age 30 are more likely than older e-content readers to say that they are reading more these days due to the availability of e-content (40% vs. 28%).
- 60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year. Some 46% used the library for research, 38% borrowed books (print books, audiobooks, or e-books), and 23% borrowed newspapers, magazines, or journals.
- Many of these young readers do not know they can borrow an e-book from a library, and a majority of them express the wish they could do so on pre-loaded e-readers. Some 10% of the e-book readers in this group have borrowed an e-book from a library and, among those who have not borrowed an e-book, 52% said they were unaware they could do so. Some 58% of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service.
Among those in this under-30 age group, three distinct clusters emerge: high schoolers (ages 16 and 17), college-aged young adults (ages 18-24), and early-career adults (ages 25-29):
- High schoolers (ages 16-17) are especially reliant on the library for their reading and research needs. They are more likely than other age groups to have used the library in the past year, especially to have checked out print books or received research assistance. In addition, they are more likely than others to get reading recommendations at the library. However, despite their greater use of their local public library, high schoolers are less likely than older age groups to say that the library is important to them and their family. Just over half consider the library “very important” or “somewhat important” to them and their families, compared with roughly two-thirds of older Americans. At the same time, these high school-aged respondents do offer some clues as to what other roles the library could play in their lives. While generally as likely to own e-book reading devices as older Americans, high schoolers are significantly more likely to say that they would be interested in checking out pre-loaded e-readers from their local public library if this service was offered.
- College-aged adults (ages 18-24) show interesting shifts in their reading habits compared with high schoolers (ages 16-17). They have the highest overall reading rate of any age group, and exhibit an increased interest in e-books and audiobooks compared with younger readers. College-aged adults are more likely than high schoolers to purchase their books, but are also more likely to borrow books from friends and family.
- Adults in their late twenties (ages 25-29) exhibit different patterns when compared with younger age groups. They are less likely to have read a book in the past year, and those who do read books are more likely to have purchased their most recent book. Yet, even as their reliance on their local public library dips, adults in their late twenties start to express a greater appreciation for libraries in general; almost three-quarters say that the library is important to them and their families.