Do College Students Read?

With college back in session, we can welcome the bemoaning of college students nationwide on social media – students now encumbered with their: back-to-back-to-back class schedules, unending assignments and group projects, non-stop social lives, and their numerous, heavily marked-up textbook collection.

It’s surely busy here, but we wanted to take a moment to see if students were putting down their textbooks for just a second, and picking up a book for pleasure.

So we went to our panel of students to ask: “do you read for fun?”  Here are some of the results:


YES! There are a fair amount of students who do read for pleasure during the school year. In fact…

  • Around 65% of students read between 1 and 5 hours each week.
  • 13% of students are reading more than 6 hours each week.
  • However, nearly 1 in 4 (22%) of students do not read at all for pleasure during the school year.

So, what about during their winter and summer breaks. Are students reading more in those, perhaps, less demanding times?

The answer is… also YES!

  • Just 10% claim to never read during their winter and summer breaks. A 50% drop!
  • During their breaks, about 50% of students read for 1-5 hours each week.
  • And on the high-end, perhaps, 40% of students claim to read 6 hours or more each week.


In textbooks, we see some dissonance between preference for print and digital. With reading for pleasure, though, there’s no clearer picture:



Lastly, we asked students about what they were reading (just to make sure no one was secretly reading textbooks for pleasure).


Apparently, students want to escape. Fiction genres outpace non-fiction across all grades and ages, with Fantasy (53%) and Science Fiction (48%) ranking as the most popular genres among today’s college students. It’s interesting to note, though, that subject-based non-fiction, biography, and auto-biography are preferred genres for more than 20% of college students.

favorite genres bar chart

That’s all for today’s bite of statistics – Stay tuned for more insights!

Customer Insights Begin With a Foundation of Research

As featured on NEXT…Barnes & Noble College to evolve its fundamental role of campus retailer into research specialist, developing an ever-clearer picture of the needs, preferences and expectations of the campus markets it serves. And in the process of developing its research platform, Barnes & Noble College has gathered new and fascinating customer insights on everything from the snacking habits of students to the expectations of a new generational wave of young consumers.

That expertise was recently on display at the Vision Critical Summit 2015 in Chicago, where Marie Policastro, Director of Brand Partnerships and Market Research for Barnes & Noble College, was invited to contribute to a panel discussion on the topic of Young, Rich and Powerful, How to Win the Loyalty of Millennials and Generation Z.

“There’s a big fascination with these [two] generations,” explains Vision Critical’s Matt Kleinschmit, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the firm’s Integrated Consumer, Retail & Shopper practice. “Not only do Millennials and Gen Z represent the largest generation since the baby boomers — and that magnitude represents a customer base — but there’s a big difference from previous generations in the way they think about brands, how they shop, even how they think about themselves,” he says.

Read more

college marketing

Designing for the College Market

Wondering the best way to grab Millennials attention?  

We sat with the Design Team here at Barnes & Noble College to get you the latest & greatest in design trends.  Here are their Top 6 Trends!

Large Images with Text Overlay:


White, Solid, and Neutral Backgrounds:



Flat Graphics, Icons, Illustrations:


Brights and Shards:


Alumni Overlays:




Best Practices in designing for the college market:


  • Clean and Simple – “66% of emails are opened on mobile devices” Keep the design scalable for multiple environments
  • Bigger fonts – Make sure CTA hierarchy is precise and clear
  • Call To Action – “Bigger, Better, Buttons!” Making sure that CTA is easily navigated and touch friendly
  • Layout – “Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling” Skinny one column approaches are the most easily read and works well in all environments
  • Streamline the message – “Get Ready for Gen Z’s 8 Second Attention Span” Keep the message short and concise
  • Email sizes – new email design trends are 320px to 550 px wide
  • Gifs – “Gifs are cool” Animation in emails is becoming a more popular trend

Mobile and Web

  • Responsive web design – aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices
  • Card Based Design- cards are ideal for RWD, easily shifted and stacked for mobile devices
  • Simpler is better– Avoid the overuse of pop up overlays and modals
  • Horizontal swipeable menus –keep it visible but let the content overflow off the edge of the screen
  • Big Buttons – it’s good for them to be large whatever the device – from touch screen tablets to desktop PCs.
  • Text Links– As well as making buttons larger, text links benefit from being larger.

Millennials: The Trend

  • Visually Oriented – “Digital natives” grew up with the internet and appreciate the graphics, speed, and accessibility
  • Seamless Organization – Visually streamlining, organizing, and connecting via mobile is expected.
  • Design Simplifies – good design can simplify a complex or difficult experience, we see this in home buying, shipment tracking, and calendar apps. Filofax who?
  • Customization – Millennials also expect customization. They can get their smart phone cover with their picture on it, their braces 3D-molded to their teeth (and invisible), and their music mixed to their taste. So in some sense, the millennial consumer is his own designer. They want design that matches their fast-paced, graphics-oriented, connected world.

On to Gen Z

Customization is the key – Gen Z is used to expressing themselves through technology, the way they customize their phone is as unique as we customize our desks. We all prefer different aesthetics, giving them the opportunity to choose their own will give them a better user experience and make them more comfortable shopping our sites and stores

Five Minutes with MARIE POLICASTRO

As featured on NEXT – Marie Policastro, Director of Barnes & Noble College Marketing & Research,  shares why brands are fixated on back to school,  the importance of internships and what’s in her closet.

What do you think is the biggest misconception brands have about the collegiate audience?

I think it’s a preoccupation with back to school. The great thing about Barnes & Noble College is that we have that dialogue, that relevance and that relationship with our students year round. We can offer brands greater access to potential customers throughout the year.

Check out what else Marie has to say about getting into college with Barnes & Noble College: MARIE POLICASTRO – Next