Masters Dissertation

Masters Dissertation: Why Millennials and Generation Z Prefer Print Books Over E-Books


The aims of this dissertation are to answer the question of whether Millennials and Generation Z tend to prefer print books or e-books, and to investigate the reasons for their preference. Focusing specifically on the United States and the United Kingdom, I investigate the psychological, historical, and economic factors that have influenced Millennials’ and Generation Z’s perception of value in the two formats, their spending behaviours, and their prioritisation of value for money, all of which culminate in shaping these two generations’ overall format preference. My methodology comprised research and analysis of data and information from outside studies on this subject, and a comparison of these to the data from my own survey. My findings uphold those of other studies to conclude that Millennials and Generation Z tend to prefer print books over e-books, despite their identity as the first ‘digital-native’ generations. The reasons for this preference include psychological phenomena (both those inherent to humans and those caused by Millennials’ and Generation Z’s particular childhood experiences), major historical events including the Digital Revolution and the Great Recession, and a combination of economic conditions including astronomically rising higher education costs, debilitating student debt, rising housing costs, and stagnant wages relative to inflation. My findings are useful for publishers to better understand their Millennial and Generation Z readers, who will continue to gain a greater share of the consumer market over time and will influence the direction of print and e-book markets for decades to come. My findings are also useful for loosely predicting the format preferences of rising generations who may be affected by similar psychological, historical, and economic circumstances in the future.

Featured in the IPG Autumn Conference, 2020

My dissertation topic was personally selected by Bridget Shine, CEO of the Independent Publishers’ Guild, to be featured in IPG’s 2020 Autumn Conference programme ‘Voices of the Future’.  I created a video for the conference, in which I summarise the key points and findings of my dissertation, as well as how publishers can use my research.