Reading time | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksHow 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

Reading time data | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image: 1843

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!