10 Facts on Boomer Readers

Boomer reader quoteThe boomer generation is defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, which means they are today between the ages of 51 and 69. Looking across the surveys from 2012, 2013 and 2015, we can see a number of differences in reading habits and preferences.

  • boomers are less interested in romance stories or those based on myth and fantasy
  • roughly 85% prefer to read about fictional characters within a backdrop of great historical events, higher than other age groups
  • when asked which aspects make historical characters come alive, boomers consider time appropriate mindsets, attitudes and morals to be critical
  • when asked why they read historical fiction, boomers are less likely to say ‘because it’s a form of time travel’
  • boomers are more likely to choose widely from different time periods than readers from other age groups and less likely to prefer stories set during Tudor and medieval times
  • more likely to find recommendations in their newspaper’s books section than on social media
  • slightly less likely to use blogs, social media and other online sites for reading recommendations and discussion
  • boomers have similar acquisition habits (borrow from friends, use the library, buy at the bookstore or buy online) to other age groups
  • compared with younger readers, boomers do not feel that social media has affected the number of books they read
  • compared with younger readers, boomers are less likely to track their books online

Interestingly, I found fewer differences than I anticipated and no real surprises!

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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15 Responses

  1. This so interesting. yesterday at a book event I had time to notice the age and preferences of the public–a large percentage of the visitors were boomers. Initially when I published my first book I wanted to make sure men realized it wasn’t a chick book 🙂 So I made the cover more masculine. More recently I rethought the presentation and went with a design that to me looked more feminine but fit the story better. The new covers drew in a bunch of boomer women until they sold out and I had to rely on the older covered books in reserve. Suddenly men were drawn in. Haha. All boomers.

    1. Covers can be truly powerful. I read somewhere that covers are like stop signs … and of course, the trick is to convince the reader to buy after they’ve stopped! Thanks for your comment, Adrienne.

  2. I always knew “middle-aged” women loved historical fiction but your 85% figure shocked me. Thanks for the stats, Mary!
    Adrienne, your cover comments are so intriguing but not surprising. My first novel, The Loyalist’s Wife, is about two people caught in war-time. It’s his story and her story but because of the title I always have to talk about its appeal to men whenever I speak. Things we learn, eh?

  3. Boomers grew up browsing in bookstores and found many memorable books that way. That process cannot be repeated or duplicated by Amazon’s algorithm. It’s a random occurrence that relies on happenstance or fate. The cover or story may attract you for no other reason than it triggers a long-forgotten memory. While we boomers don’t want to get rid of Amazon or online shopping altogether, the end-result of having next to no bookstores to browse through is a sickening side effect.

  4. Great article and has me thinking. Whiskey Creek Press published my historical fiction novel, Juniper and Anise, a story of a woman bootlegger. I have found, while doing author events, I’ve stopped saying the words “historical fiction” (to any age group) as people’s eyes seem to glaze over. When I use the words relevant to the story like a “woman bootlegger” or “rumrunning” or “hooch,” I get all sorts of interest. Curious to me.

  5. LOL These stats fit me quite well. Plus, as a historical fiction author, I am encouraged to see this. Now the next questions is: how do we bring in those younger readers?

  6. The stats mirrored me (a boomer) pretty well. I was intrigued by your comment that you found it interesting that there were fewer differences than you anticipated. What differences did you think you might see? Were there data in this category that were different than you may have answered yourself? Just curious.

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