Print & Publishing

Gen Z, Indie Bookshops and the Print Industry Revival 

By Amélie Watson

Generation Z has come to be known for our progressive and inclusive sentiments, our desire for driving change in various aspects of our society. As a whole, we aim to mend the flaws in our systems through our youthful and zealous mindfulness. Along with this, the thing that sets us apart from older generations is the way in which our lives are inextricably entwined with the internet and the digital sphere. We are the world’s first digital natives. These fundamental concepts have come together to manifest a new sector of the literary marketplace, which I argue will create a revival within the print industry. 

It is no secret that social media has become an epicentre for sales and advertising. For us digital natives, this is a prerequisite in our day-to-day lives with Youtube, Instagram and TikTok our favourite social media platforms. Each platform has a sub-community dedicated to literature and reading which include ‘booktube’, ‘bookstagram’, and ‘booktok’. It’s widely accepted that these communities have had an impact on book sales, but how is this affecting the literary marketplace beyond this? 

Generally, an awareness of economic and environmental concerns has led Gen Z to drive a new market economy based on “slow”, sustainable practices. An article in Forbes points out that we are embracing the recommerce mode of buying and selling, meaning that the popularity of marketing secondhand items is increasing. In line with this is our desire to support small businesses. As a result, the independent bookshop has seen a rise in popularity. The industry has seen six consecutive years of growth, and unsurprisingly, this has coincided with book communities on social media gaining traction. The combination of our increased motivation to read and to shop smarter and smaller has resulted in a new niche market centred around buying from the independent bookshop. 

In 2019, Michael Bakshar suggested that business models in the publishing industry “have not caught up” with the sheer amount of content being published on the internet. However, only a couple years later it is clear to see that, at least within this niche Gen Z market, it is beginning to catch up. Authors and publishers alike can benefit from this growing phenomenon surrounding the indie bookshop, boosting their sales marketing to the keen Gen Z buyer. 

Booktoker @jessyreads has amassed 37.3K likes on a video promoting an independent bookshop in London. Similarly, booktuber @jack_in_the_books has gained 107K views on a vlog of him shopping in indie bookshops in New York City. This type of content is everywhere, facilitating not only the independent bookshop industry, but the print industry as a whole. 

With a higher demand for physical books due to social media, and a novelty surrounding the independent bookshop, there is a very real opportunity for the industry’s decline to be reversed. This could very well be the beginning of a print renaissance, initiated by the zealous and progressive minds of Generation Z. 

Image Credit: Pixaby