E-books have yet to take over from print – far from it, in fact – when it comes to Millennials, according to a survey by Publishing Technology.

The UK content solutions provider surveyed 1,000 Millennials – defined here as 18-to-34-year-olds – each in the US and UK to get a sense of how they did their reading over the previous year and found that when it came to books, their preferences remain firmly rooted in the physical world.

Most Millennials have read a traditional book in a year and have not gone fully digital, says the survey. Photo: Filepic 

Only 1.6% of US respondents claimed they had gone “fully digital,” while 3.7% in the UK said the same thing.

Of course, most consumers take a hybrid approach, and the survey found that 79% of US respondents had read a print book within the 12 months prior, while 47% of them had read an e-book on a tablet within that time and 36% on a mobile phone.

The situation in the UK looks similar: 64% had read a print book within 12 books, 28% had read an e-book on a tablet and 19% had done so on a mobile phone.

Preferences in the way Millennials acquire books reflected the same trend. Public libraries were top in the US, with 53% of respondents saying they “normally acquired” books this way. Chain bookstores are a very close second at 52%. Next in line are secondhand bookstores at 45%, and only then, in fourth, do e-commerce sites join the list, with 40%.

Again, findings are similar in the UK, where 43% said they normally acquired books from chain bookstores, while 38% used e-commerce sites. Public libraries, on the other hand, were only cited by 21% of the British respondents.

The fact that Millennials still cling to printed books may comes as a surprise for a population also referred to as “digital natives.” However, this is not the first study to highlight the pattern.

In a Pew Internet study from 2012 of US respondents aged 16-29, 75% had read a print book in the previous year, while just 19% had read an e-book. This was similar when the school-age respondents were removed from the equation: among those aged 25-29, for example, 69% had read a printed book in the previous 12 months while only 20% had read an e-book.

Pew Internet's most recent look at such reading habits, released in 2014, had similar findings: 73% of 18-to-24-year-olds surveyed had read a print book within the last year, while just 37% of them had read an e-book.

Could the fact of being a digital native actually drive young people away from e-reading?

A college-age respondent in the 2012 Pew Internet study, in explaining his preference for an e-reader over other digital reading devices, said, “I don't like to read on computer screens similar to my tablet and computer monitors,” which could also be a reason for opting for print.

Another reason? What's old is new again. A respondent in her late twenties said: “I prefer the overall experience of reading an actual book. It somehow feels more warm and personal.” – AFP Relaxnews