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Why Sharing Physical Books Matters To Millennials
Recently, I was asked if I’d like to join a book club. Since I am a work-from-home mom who has little socialization with anyone over the age of infancy, I happily agreed to join. We started a Facebook group because how else do Millennials socialize in today’s world?
I’m not sure why I was surprised when the first questions posted to the group weren’t:
- “What genre of books does everyone like to read?”
- “Should we have a theme?”
- “Are there certain authors people are interested in adding to our booklist?”
Instead, the first question asked was: “Should we focus on books available in eBook form, or paper copy?” A poll was taken, and the results were overwhelmingly in the favor of physical, paper books. Personally, I own a ton of books. In fact, when we moved into our house, almost every box was filled with one or two layers of books, with the remaining space going to household items.
In my baby-proofing, down-sizing, and spring cleaning, I had gotten rid of almost anything on a shelf or that is easily destroyed. But my books remain unmoved in my home. I was interested to find out why people in my generation seem to prefer paper-bound books to eBooks, like me. I did my own Instagram and Facebook polls (extremely scientific, I might add), and the results were again overwhelmingly in favor of physical books over eBooks. I gave an option to answer why and the following are some of the responses I got:
- “The smell. The fact that the entire rest of my life is on screens. The wear of the pages.”
- “I like the feel of actually holding my books.”
- “When I’m done reading a book, I like to lend them out and share them with my friends.”
- “I stare at a screen all day for work. When I read, it makes me happy to read from pages again.”
To me, these feel like physiological answers that bring about an emotional change. The “feel” of holding a book brings joy. The weight of carrying a book and the space a book collection takes up mattered to very few.
In a generation that has been raised in front of screens, it seems like holding and owning books induces nostalgia.
Many millennials long for escapism that isn’t in front of another screen. We would rather spend money on something we can hold, that we feel we own, and like one of my friend’s mentioned, can share with someone else once we are done reading it. If I purchased a book on a Kindle for instance, I can’t share it to the eReader of a friend who I know might enjoy it.
Personally, I’m much less likely to feel cozy curling up on a rainy day with a shiny eReader than I am with my hardbound book. Opening and reading a book is an experience that we just can’t get from a tablet or Kindle. If we Millennials have any say in the matter, paper copy is here to stay.
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