reading

Look Away From This Graph, Book Lovers

Few people hold any illusions about the long-term — or even not-so-long-term — prognosis for paper books as a commercially viable product (hint: not good). But a new graph just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (hat tip to Catherine Rampell) shows just how dire the situation looks when you take into account age-related differences in reading, and therefore purchasing, habits. Kids these days are not into traditional books.

Take a look:

The accompanying post lays out the rather woeful numbers:

In 2013, consumers spent an average of $29.20 on books not purchased through book clubs. Among different age groups, consumers age 55 to 64 years spent the most ($40.28) on books (not through book clubs) and those under 25 years spent the least ($12.56). In recent years, digital book readers have become more popular and consumers spent an average of $30.18 on digital book readers in 2013. Those ages 35 to 44 years spent $51.73 on digital book readers in 2013, the most of any age group.

$12.56 per year! There was a time when that would barely buy you a single book.

The bright side, of course, is that reports of the demise of long-form reading appear to be greatly exaggerated. Young people are spending a fair amount of money on e-reading devices, which certainly jibes with the notion held by many that even as bookstores shut down left and right, in a broader sense, the last couple of years have been good ones for the #longform (ugh) world.