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Generation Y Now Officially Buys More Books than the Baby Boomers

It’s not your grandpa’s book market anymore. While the world’s eyes may often be focused on the effects kindles and nooks and iPads and other e-reader options may be having on literature and book sales, there’s an entirely different “coup” happening in the population of book consumers. Baby Boomers have long dominated the book-buying market, but no longer; Generation Y has taken over that honor. 

Baby Boomers may account for the highest percentage in the population, but Generation Y (those born between approximately 1979 and 1989) is whipping their butts in book sales.

This comes from a report based on a Bowker Market Research consumer panel:

While the report, the “2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review,” documents the changes in such high-profile industry areas as format and channel, a significant shift that has been a bit under the radar unearthed by the study is the change in who buys books. With Baby Boomers accounting for the highest percentage of the general population, that age group has historically spent the most on books. In 2011, however, that changed, when Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1989, took over the book-buying leadership from Baby Boomers, accounting for 30% of book expenditures in the year, up from 24% in 2010, while Baby Boomers’ share of spending fell from 30% to 25%.

As Comics Beat points out, this means that the generation buying the most books these days is also the generation that was  raised on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We’re not surprised; rather, we are proud. It’s nice that the torch has been passed, and maybe this means good things for the more recent generation (Generation Z? That seems ominously final…) in terms of future consumer habits.

Additionally, about 43% of Gen Y’s purchases are focused online, and the shift to digital channels is increasingly undeniable. But as professional wisdom-giver John Green once said, “I don’t care how people read, I care that they read.”

(via Comics Beat) (Image via Wired)

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  • Anonymous

    Baby boomers ruined this country with their selfish egotism. You brought civil rights…..that’s good I won’t lie. However you also created so many special interest programs that are unsustainable and we the younger generation have to pay into things we won’t be able to take advantage of. Boomers also are leaving behind nothing to their children. They truly are selfish.

  • Pam van Hylckama

    What does that have to do with books? yay books!

  • Jose Rivera


  • Daniel Swensen

    Tell ‘em Steve-Dave… wait… what? 

  • Angel S.

     Nothing to do with books, but I totally relate … and I’m Gen-X.  I wish I could opt out of paying for SS and Medicare, because I know it won’t be around for me.  SS in particular is a Ponzi scheme. 

    “Ida May Fuller worked for three years
    under the Social Security program. The accumulated taxes
    on her salary during those three years was a total of
    $24.75. Her initial monthly check was $22.54. During her
    lifetime she collected a total of $22,888.92 in Social
    Security benefits.”


  • Kate

    I’m proud to have done my part in this great revolution! In all seriousness, though, it’s nice to know that people are still reading. I know that, as a book lover, I’ve always had a lurking fear that eventually there would be no market for books. 

  • Frank LaFone

    Kinda bizarre depiction of ‘Gen Y’ birth era.  Although they’re all made up ‘generations’, the most normal depiction I’ve seen for the Boomers is 1945 to early 1960′s (’63 being fairly normal, but not always).  Generation X is from then until the early ’80′s (again, ’83 being fairly normal, but not always).  Gen Y is then normally early 80′s through 2000 (ish).  It seems to me the depiction kinda gets the end of Gen X and the first half of Gen Y.

    Much cleaner depiction is that people in their 20′s (ish) buy more books than people in their 50′s (ish).

  • thecynicalromantic

     Not to mention that “Generation Y” makes us sound like a personality-free afterthought to Gen X. We have our own name; it’s “Millenials.”

  • martha

     LOL What indeed

  • Daniel Swensen

    Labels (or lack thereof) can neither confer nor revoke personality. 

  • The Goodwill Geek

    Just so we’re clear… are we talking physical books or digital ones… or both?

  • rachel smith

    If we’re going to include persons born into Gen Y born as those born as soon as 2000, I wonder how many of those book purchases included the “Twilight” series and other pulp supernatural “thrillers”/”romances” or how many college students have had to buy a huge pile of books for an ever expanding list of classes (since we all know that the “young people” can’t choose a “proper” major to save their lives)….