How much time do people of various ages spend reading? How true is the commonly held rule of thumb, that the older a person, the more they spend reading?
The answer can be found in a recent article by James Tozer published by 1843 (The Economist’s sister publication). It quotes data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), an annual survey run by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine how leisure time has changed in the last 10 years.
What, you may ask, is the main change since 2006? The rise of the mobile phone, is the simple answer. So, how has that changed the way people spend their leisure time?
The 65+ Group: More TV, Less Reading
To my surprise, it turns out that it’s the 65+ who have the greatest decrease in time reading. Their reading time has decreased from 50′ to 30′.
What has taken up the bulk of this change for the 65+ group? Again, I was surprised to see it was almost exclusively TV. Indeed, TV has also eaten up that group’s thinking time by almost 15′. Despite this, however, the 65+ group remains the largest consumer of reading material.
How About Them Youngsters?
Again to my surprise, the 15-24 age group’s reading habits have remained steady, at some 10′ per day. They, too, are great consumers of TV, but actually, watch less than they did 10 years ago. In their case, however, it is computers and phones that have grabbed their attention — to the great expense of socializing. However, it has to be pointed out that many youngsters use their phones and tablets to read, so their reading time may have actually increased in the past 10 years.
Erm… You Mentioned Marketing?
Yes, I did. What does all this mean for your marketing efforts? Studying the above data, I reached 3 conclusions:
- The rule of thumb is true: the older a person, the more time they spend reading.
- Youngsters spend more time reading on devices. Make your books available in both print and digital format to attract a younger audience.
- The impression that youngsters no longer read is misleading. Young people and teens read on their devices and they read as many books as they did 10 years ago.
I hope you find them useful. Check out the original post on 1843 for more information on how people spend their leisure time!
😉 If it helps, I think a lot of younger folks are invisible in their reading and book buying because their parents own the kindle account – ie it’s used for ‘school books’ but they buy other stuff on it too – and as someone up there said, they chat on social media too.
I wrote my books on the also bought principle; as in, if you liked Harry Potter/Terry Pratchett/Douglas Adams you will also like… but while I expected the readers to be kids it’s women from 35 – 35 and from 55 up and men from 45 up. Weird.
We have no control over who enjoys our work, do we? 😀
Good point about kindle account invisibility. Hadn’t thought of that!
Great info, Nicholas. It definitely makes sense to have digitized books, and sales back that up. And, apparently, in a few years I’m going to be doing a lot less thinking, it seems. Ha ha. ,
Lol – somehow I doubt you need to worry about that 😀
This was interesting. As someone now in that 65+ group (just) I am aware that I read a great deal less. As for TV viewing, that hasn’t increased, just got more selective, with an inordinate amount of rolling news thrown in. Of course, what has taken up my time has been blogging. If I wasn’t always blogging, I would be reading instead.
But then I would never have met nice people like you! 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
The feeling is mutual!
Charles was just saying how his parents are always watching the news. I wonder if part of the reason is that news today are much more fear-based.
From my point of view, it’s because it is always on. This news-mania really only started for me after 9/11. I watched it unfold all day and night, unable to tear myself away from the TV. Now I always expect something ‘big’ to happen.
And in the UK these days, it often does! 🙂
As the Chinese curse goes, may we live in interesting times!
Didn’t expect that trend, but I shouldn’t be surprised. My wife and I always have a book or Kindle around unless we’re out doing something. To be fair, I’m usually working on my own stuff and have taken to more manga than novels. My parents spend a lot of time watching the news and late night dramas. I think stuff like NCIS and the Good Wife are geared toward the older demographics. So, they get caught in the hype more than me. Although, it’s mostly news because all of the 65+ people I know just HAVE to be aware of every event in the world.
I noticed the socializing dot too. That’s fairly worrisome in my mind. If younger people aren’t socializing then how can you build up a word of mouth campaign?
I guess the new word of mouth is the word of social media 🙂
True. Does it help if people aren’t sharing though? Most seem to be there to get attention for themselves. Says the author to the other author though. ?
Hey, what you are you insinuating?? 😀
Nothing. Nothing at all. *goes back to putting up a billboard for Windemere*
Good. Now I can go back to arranging that discrete skywriting promo for my books.
How are we doing on that laser to write our promos on the moon?
Expect delays. The project manager was just snatched by the North Koreans.
It would either be them or the Americans.
That explains the demand for an orange laser.
If not orange then gold. Everything is gold.
Yes, I do hear good things about gold.
Such a malleable, weak metal too.