Apex-Experience-6.4-9 Reading

Image: Dawson Media Direct

APEX Insight: Here’s a page-turner: A recent survey by Dawson Media Direct finds that print usurps digital in the reading preferences cited by premium travelers – especially among millennials.

Those who came of age in the aughts will recall turtleneck-clad baby boomers – one in particular – pushing successively shrinking computers at them as the “next big (little) thing.” Indeed, the label “millennial” comes part and parcel with another one: “digital natives.” But it would be wrong to assume that the first generation raised with digital fluency prefers reading in 1s and 0s. In fact, a recent study from Atmosphere Research Group, commissioned by media distributor Dawson Media Direct (DMD), suggests otherwise.    

With more than 120 airline customers, DMD a UK-based company that provides print and digital newspaper and magazine titles, was interested to learn more about the reading habits of premium long-haul travelers. A total of 400 frequent premium flyers were polled on their reading habits in April 2016.

Apex-Experience-6.4-10 Reading Sidebar

Illustration: Marcel Cáceres

Overall, the survey found that 77 percent of premium travelers view flying as a key time to catch up on news, preferring print, especially for long-form journalism and on long-haul trips. But broken down, the trend is more prominent among younger age brackets: 82 percent of those age 21–39 view travel as reading time, versus 69 percent of those age 40 and over. “There can often be an automatic assumption that [the younger] generation wants nothing to do with print,” says Paul Rayson, managing director at DMD. “Our survey has proven the opposite to be true.”

Not surprisingly, those who grew up in the heyday of the high-speed Information Age value staying informed more than those more familiar with snail mail; but less predictably, print carries more currency the younger the age bracket. Notably, young and old premium travelers view print as a more credible source for news information, the younger crowd ranking The New York Times as top pick, and those in the 40-plus crowd opting for The Wall Street Journal first.

While the study looks primarily at reading habits on the fly, a recent study from Pew Research Center reinforces the demographic slant on the ground. In a survey of more than 6,000 Americans, 88 percent of those 30 and younger said they had read a book in the past year, versus 79 percent of respondents 30 and older.

“Read the Fine Print” was originally published in the October/November issue of APEX Experience magazine. 

Katie is a writer for APEX Media, based in Toronto, Ontario.