All our fears about millennials kicking books to the curb in favor of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl marathons might be unfounded. According to Pew's Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits survey, young adults between the ages of 16 and 29 still read. A full 83 percent of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year and 60 percent used the library.
But what's surprising is that despite the meteoric sales of tablets and e-readers and the rise of digital texts, traditional print books are still the way most younger Americans read. A full 75 percent still read traditional print books, compared to only 19 percent who read e-books, and a mere 11 percent who listen to audiobooks. Of millennials who read digital texts, electronic readers like the Kindle aren't the most popular reading option either—41 percent "are more likely to read their e-books on a cell phone" and 55 percent are more likely to read on their computer.
When it comes to library use, 46 percent head there for research purposes—which makes sense since that demographic skews heavily to students—while only 38 percent are borrowing books. Interestingly enough, a little more than half of respondents didn't know that they could borrow an e-book from their local library. The ability to borrow digitally might not impact millennials all that much though. Very few respondents told Pew they want e-books to replace their print cousins at libraries.
"As much as I love using my Kindle, I would find it devastating if the library were to dramatically reduce its print collection,” one twenty-something said, noting that she loves "the feel of physical books." Still another wrote, "Though e-books are important, we must keep an emphasis on our physical libraries as a community space and option for lower income and lower education neighborhoods who may not have access or knowledge of e-book devices and e-book use."
Yes, folks, there's still hope for American civilization. Not only do millennials read and go to the library, they're thinking about the larger education issues in their community, too. So stop freaking out already!
Peeking from behind book photo via Shutterstock