Whew: Study Reveals The Internet Generation Still Knows What A Book Is

Us old folk who didn’t have our childhood catalogued in daily detail on social networks like to grumble about “kids these days!” Which is just a cranky way of saying the Facebook generation is spoiled by technology and probably wouldn’t even know what a book is if it’s not based off a hilarious parody Twitter account. But actually, kids these days not only know what real books are still, they’re reading them more than adults.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project says 8 in 10 Americans under the age of 30 — from ages 16 to 29 — have read a book in the last year. Okay, great. How about the rest of us adults? Only about 7 in 10 of adults in general have done the same thing. Not only that, but the so-called Facebook generation is more likely to use the library.

NPR spoke to one of the study’s lead authors who explained that while e-books are popular, young Americans still like the print versions, too.

“We heard from e-book readers in general [that] they don’t want e-books to replace print books. They see them as part of the same general ecosystem; e-books supplement their general reading habits,” she explains. “And we heard from a lot of younger e-book readers about how e-books just fit into their lives — how they can read when they’re waiting in line for class, or waiting in line for lunch.”

The study also showed that those kids who are reading e-books are more likely to read them on their phones (41%) or a computer (55%), rather  than on an e-reader (23%) or a tablet (16%).

A trend the youths of our nation seem to like is the idea of the preloaded e-reader — one that you can check out at a library that already has popular books loaded on to it.

Explains the study’s main author:

“And a lot of libraries are really looking at how they can engage with this younger age group, especially with Americans in their teens and early 20s. And so a lot of libraries are looking at ways to sort of give them their own space in the libraries, have activities just for them. Some libraries even have diner-style booths for the teens where they can just socialize and hang out, and so that they can think of the library as a space of their own.”

I have to say, knowing that young people still love books brings a tear of joy to this cantankerous old literature lover’s eye. Proud of you kids.

America’s Facebook Generation Is Reading Strong [NPR]
Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits [Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project ]