Book Clubs Have Become a Thing for Gen Z, Millennials

The generations are modernizing the old-school pastime.

03.13.24
Book Clubs Have Become a Thing for Gen Z, Millennials (Getty Images)

California; HaywardBook clubs have been popular for several generations. With younger generations, the tradition of discussing a singular book faded away with the introduction of new tech. However, CNN reports that younger people are getting into book clubs with their unique twist.

Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly gravitating towards book clubs as a means of socializing, marking a 24% growth in book club event listings in the United States in 2023, according to Eventbrite. The trend is not confined to traditional home-based gatherings; book club organizers are innovating by hosting events at restaurants, and breweries, and even incorporating running groups. Niche book clubs, such as themed and silent book clubs, are on the rise, with queer book clubs experiencing an 82% attendance increase, and silent book club attendance growing by 23%.

The shift from virtual interactions to in-person engagements post-pandemic is a significant driver behind the surge in book club popularity. Eventbrite also observed a rise in themed book club events, including romance book clubs, dating event book clubs, and evening book club running groups like Read & Run Chicago.

Social media platforms, particularly TikTok and Instagram, play a crucial role in fueling interest among younger readers. The influence of #BookTok and #Bookstagram culture has been instrumental in introducing diverse titles to a wider audience, with Gen Z icon Dua Lipa even establishing her book club. The #BookTok hashtag alone has garnered over 220 billion views, contributing to unexpected boosts for authors whose works are discovered by TikTok users.

While print book sales experienced a 3% decline last year, they remained 10% higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to Circana. Adult fiction, in particular, has seen consistent growth for five consecutive years in the US. The resurgence of book clubs aligns with the positive trajectory of independent bookstores, with over 250 new stores opening in 2022, many surpassing pre-pandemic sales levels. The trend is seen as a response to dissatisfaction with Amazon's dominance in the book industry, with some consumers opting to support local bookstores.

Barnes & Noble, too, is making a comeback, expanding for the first time in a decade by opening 30 new stores in 2023. The chain plans to continue this momentum by opening an additional 50 stores in 2024. Teri Coan, brand manager at Once Upon a Book Club, notes that the resurgence in physical book engagement is driven in part by Gen Z's avoidance of Amazon, contributing to the preference for indie bookstores.

Noumaan Faiz, (he/him) is a journalist and entertainer from Hayward, CA who covers culture and entertainment.

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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