Libris, analysis of reading preferences across generations, at their 32 years anniversary
Libris, renowned bookstore in the Romanian market, is celebrating its 32nd anniversary this month. Over the course of more than three decades, 1.3 million readers from 170 countries have purchased over 22 million books. In Libris’ 5,000-square-meter warehouse located in Brasov, one million volumes are permanently hosted, reaching readers of all ages.
Founded in 1991 by Ana and Virgil Onita, Libris is one of the first post-Communist companies dedicated to books and culture. Libris began as the St. O. Iosif bookstore located in Brașov, whose mission to offer book lovers the most interesting, current, and desired volumes has been continued online since 2009 through Libris.ro, the online bookstore founded by Laura Țeposu.
Analysis of Reading Preferences Across Generations
On its 32nd anniversary, with three generations of booksellers actively involved in daily operations, Libris conducted an in-depth analysis of the literary preferences of each generation of readers. Currently, Libris.ro receives over 2.6 million book orders annually, delivered to thousands of readers. The majority of these readers are located in Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, and Brasov. Among them, approximately 14% are under the age of 25, representing Generation Z, 45% are Millennials (Gen Y), aged between 25-44, 33% are readers from Generation X, aged between 45 and 65, and 8% are Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, aged over 65. Generation Alpha, the youngest readers, is indirectly represented through the purchases of children’s books, which have been analyzed separately.
“Throughout our 32 years of involvement in Libris, our team has noticed the major preferences of reader generations, which are now validated by our qualitative analysis based on sales volume over the past 3 years. It is important to note that this analysis is based on data, therefore the conclusions reveal general trends that do not exclude the individual reading interests that the audience may have,” says Laura Țeposu, CEO of Libris.
Therefore, Libris’ analysis of the top 1000 best-selling titles on their website, correlated with readers’ age groups, indicates that all generations find inspiration in fiction titles. Within the vast category of Fiction, Generation Z predominantly reads Fantasy, Generation Y is interested in contemporary literature, Generation X has the widest range of literary preferences in fiction, as they appreciate both contemporary novels and science fiction, Baby Boomers are interested in detective novels and thrillers, while the Silent Generation highly appreciates classic literature.
Biographies are interesting to all generations, with younger individuals from Generation Y and Generation Z opting for biographies of contemporary figures in the fields of business, entrepreneurship, showbiz, or personal development, whereas Generation X and Baby Boomers choose biographies of classical figures.
Additionally, each generation shows interest in titles with narratives about Auschwitz, with increased interest particularly following the release of internationally acclaimed bestsellers adapted into successful films.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” – Anne Frank
“Man’s Search for Meaning” – Viktor E. Frankl
“The Choice” – Edith Eva Eger
“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” – John Boyne
“The Book Thief” – Markus Zusak
“We are delighted by the high interest shown by readers from all generations in books by contemporary Romanian authors, who have built close and active communities that significantly contribute to the success and popularity of their released titles. Ten years ago, we launched the ‘Author of the Month’ campaign on Libris, promoting Romanian writers. Through this campaign, our audience has access to autographed books, which is eagerly anticipated by our loyal customers. Names such as Mircea Cartarescu, Radu Paraschivescu, Tatiana Niculescu, Lucian Boia, Gabriel Liiceanu, Horia Roman Patapievici, Mihaela Bilic, Simona Tivadar, Dumitru Constantin Dulcan, Niculina Gheorghiță, Petronela Rotar, and Gaspar Gyorgy are just a few examples of Romanian authors whose autographed books or new releases quickly capture the readers’ interest,” says Laura Țeposu.
Generation Z, passionate about reading Fantasy, they crave the latest releases immediately.
Generation Z is primarily interested in reading Fantasy books, both in Romanian and English. They enjoy stories with young heroes, fantastic adventures, and supernatural elements because they prefer to experience diverse realities that deeply stimulate their creativity.
Generation Z stands out as a multicultural generation, where literary preferences intertwine. They are the kind of readers interested in titles from categories such as self-help (as they value inner well-being), true crime, romance, graphic novels, young adult fiction, as well as Manga series. They are always attracted to what’s new and connected with emerging literary trends and titles that go viral on social media platforms.
Additionally, readers from Generation Z are the most eager to discover new releases, often opting to purchase books in English even before translations are available. Their interest in books that have been adapted into movies, especially in the Fantasy and Young Adult genres, is pronounced, and these books often become bestsellers.
With the dynamic demand, the English Books category has grown exponentially on Libris in recent years, and currently, the website lists nearly 1 million titles in the English language.
Titles chosen by Generation Z in the last 3 years:
“Shadow and Bone” (Shadow and Bone #1) – Leigh Bardugo
“Heartstopper Vol. 4” – Alice Oseman
“It all begins with us”- Colleen Hoover
“I Am Different” – Svetlana Cârstean
“The Firestarter” – Stephen King
“Sandman” (Set of 3 volumes) – Neil Gaiman
Millennials are actively seeking inner balance, continuous personal growth, and readings that are “buzzworthy” or widely discussed
Generation Y (Millennials), the readers of this generation, are known for their rigorous reading routines, and their interests are diverse as they enjoy both Fiction (with a heightened interest in contemporary and classic literature) and Non-Fiction. Manga books are also among the chosen titles by readers from Generation Y, as they have a strong desire to expand their literary preferences and horizons. Similar to Generation Z, Generation Y readers select books in English, especially English Manga. Novels and stories that address topics such as identity, interpersonal relationships, technology, and social changes are particularly appreciated by readers of this generation.
Moreover, Millennials are the most passionate and interested in self-discovery, self-work, and the exploration of childhood traumas. Therefore, titles in the self-help and personal development genre hold great appeal for these readers. Highly popular books in this category have stood out, such as “When the Body Says No” by Gabor Mate, “Healing Your Inner Child” by Stefanie Stahl, “Nietzsche’s Cry” by Irvin Yalom, and “Looking Inward” by Petronela Rotar. These books resonate with Millennials as they delve into the realms of personal growth, healing, and introspection, addressing topics that are relevant to their lives and well-being.
With an entrepreneurial spirit and a focus on stability and long-term commitments, readers from Generation Y are interested in professional development and often seek out titles in this category. Books that offer practical advice, inspiration, and strategies for personal and professional success are attractive to Generation Y. Authors such as Yuval Harari with “Sapiens,” Marcus Aurelius with “Meditations,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and Seth Godin consistently feature in bestseller lists.
Additionally, Generation Y finds recreational reading inspiration from book clubs, recommendations from public figures and the media, as well as books marked as New York Times bestsellers. Titles such as “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and “Three Apples Fell from Heaven” by Narine Abgaryan have dominated the bestseller lists in recent years. These books provide engaging and immersive reading experiences that resonate with the interests and tastes of Generation Y.
Titles chosen by generation Y:
“When the Body Says No” – Gabor Mate
“Healing Your Inner Child” – Stefanie Stahl
“Three Apples Fell from Heaven” – Narine Abgaryan
“Normal People” – Sally Rooney
“Shino Can’t Say Her Name” – Oshimi Shuzo
Generation X and older generations, a complex literary universe
Readers from Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation find moments of relaxation through works of fiction (both contemporary and classic literature). Unlike other generations, they are more oriented towards history, politics, and titles in the humanities and biographies, memoirs, and journals categories. In other words, the literary universe of these readers is very vast, as they enjoy both fiction and non-fiction.
One of the main preferences of Generation X readers is reading detective novels and thriller books. They also find inspiration in biographies, memoirs, and journals, but written by contemporary authors. They appreciate the success of Romanian writers who depict life during communism (Ioana Nicolaie, Gabriela Adamesteanu, Norman Manea, Lucian Boia, Veronica D. Niculescu, Adina Popescu, Matei Visniec, Liliana Corobca, Dan Lungu), as well as international authors, such as Irvin Yalom’s autobiographical novel “When Nietzsche Wept.”
Moreover, many readers from Generation X grew up reading science fiction and fantasy books, and these genres continue to be of interest to this generation. They particularly appreciate series like Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” titles by Isaac Asimov, or J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.
Titles chosen de generația X:
“The Years” by Annie Ernaux
“Foundation. Foundation Series. Vol.1” by Isaac Asimov
“Dune. Dune #1” by Frank Herbert
“Darkness at Noon” by Arthur Koestler
“The Shining” by Stephen King
Readers from the Baby Boomers generation are also the ones who appreciate a personal perspective on political and cultural events through the eyes of those who experienced them. They are more oriented towards biographies and memoirs that encompass philosophical currents and mark important historical events.
Titles chosen by Baby Boomers:
King Michael I, the Last King of the Romanians – Tatiana Niculescu
Gulag: A History – Anne Applebaum
The Intelligence of Matter: Anniversary Edition – Dumitru Constantin Dulcan
The Enigma in the Attic – Rodica Ojog Brașoveanu
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
In the Silent Generation, we find readers who appreciate traditional values and have respect for authority. Readers in this generation also enjoy fiction, relaxing through classical literature, and prefer books with well-constructed stories, universal themes, and complex characters (established literary works, classic novels, poetry).
Born in a significant historical period, they have an interest in books that explore those times and offer them a perspective on the experiences and historical context in which they lived. Nichita Stănescu and F.M. Dostoevsky are among the favorite authors of this generation, and titles from the “Regina Maria” collection or books with religious themes, such as the works of Father Necula, are appealing to these readers, as they appreciate morality and ethics.
The Alpha Generation is represented by the young mini-readers, whose choices are guided by parents and educators. Readers in this generation enjoy books with illustrations, popular book series like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, interactive books, educational stories that cover topics such as science, nature, history, and different cultures, as well as moral tales.
Moreover, contemporary Romanian authors such as Ioana Chicet Macoveiciuc, Alex Donovici, or Alec Blenche enjoy high popularity, sometimes surpassing the classic Romanian authors with mandatory reading lists, such as Ion Creangă or Mihai Sadoveanu, or even renowned foreign authors who have contributed to universal literature like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Jill Tomlinson, or Margaret Wise Brown.
Titles chosen by Generation Alpha:
“500 Amazing and Funny Facts”
“The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson
“The Adventures of Habarnam and His Friends” by Nikolai Nosov
“Stories to Love Yourself More” by Francesc Miralles and Alex Rovira
“Tup and the Influencers of Goodness” by Alex Donovici
“We have taken on an active role in promoting and supporting reading, with the primary goal of attracting children and teenagers to reading, which we have achieved. We are delighted to see the growing interest in books among young readers year after year. In the past year, the Children’s Books category had the highest number of sales on Libris.ro, a statistic that both pleases us and emphasizes the need to pay increased attention to diversifying the editorial offerings for children. Over the past three decades, we have consistently organized events, fairs, library donations for children, workshops, and various initiatives, all aimed at instilling a passion for reading in readers of all ages. And today, we are thrilled to see that even the youngest readers love books and have a closer relationship with them,” Laura Teposu adds.