As the number of ways people spend their time has expanded, a recent Pew Research Center survey, authored by Andrew Perrin, finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, says the report, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book.
Print Books More Popular Than EBooks or Audio Books
Read book, any format
Read print book
Source: Pew Research Center, October 2016
Excerpts from Perrin are copied and reproduced here to describe the survey findings. While print remains at the center of the book-reading landscape as a whole, the share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time. And smartphones are playing an especially prominent role in the e-reading habits of certain demographic groups, such as non-whites and those who have not attended college.
Americans read an average of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read 4 books in the last 12 months. Each of these figures is largely unchanged since 2011, when Pew Research Center first began conducting surveys of Americans’ book reading habits.
Readers today can access books in several common digital formats, but print books remain more popular than either e-books or audio books. 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, which is identical to the share of Americans who reported doing so in 2012
By contrast, 28% of Americans have read an e-book, and 14% have listened to an audio book, in the last year. E-book readership increased by 11-percentage points between 2011 and 2014, but has seen no change in the last two years.
Nearly four-in-ten Americans read print books exclusively, and just 6% are digital-only book readers, while 28% of Americans read books in both print and digital formats (which includes e-books and audio books). Some 38% read print books but did not read books in any digital formats, while just 6% read digital books but not print books.
Some demographic groups are slightly more likely than others to do all of their reading in digital format, says the report. For instance:
College graduates are roughly four times as likely to read e-books, and about twice as likely to read print books and audio books, compared with those who have not graduated high school, says the report.
As was the case in previous Pew Research Center surveys on book reading, certain groups of Americans read at relatively high rates and in a wide variety of formats, says the report. These include:
Readers On Tablets And Cellphones (% US Adults Read E-Book in Previous Year)
Source: Pew Research Center, October 2016
Tablet computer and smartphone ownership have each increased dramatically in recent years, and a growing share of Americans are using these multipurpose mobile devices, rather than dedicated e-readers, to read books. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Americans who read books on tablet computers has increased nearly fourfold, while the share who read books on smartphones has more than doubled.
The share of Americans who read books on desktop or laptop computers has also increased, although by a more modest amount: 11% of Americans now do this, up from 7% in 2011. By contrast, 8% of Americans now report that they read books using dedicated e-reader devices, nearly identical to the 7% who reported doing so in 2011.
By contrast, 8% of Americans now report that they read books using dedicated e-reader devices – nearly identical to the 7% who reported doing so in 2011.
About one-in-five Americans under the age of 50 have used a cellphone to read e-books; blacks and Americans who have not attended college are especially likely to turn to cellphone – rather than other digital devices – when reading e-books
Previous Pew Research Center studies have documented how several groups such as blacks and Latinos, and those who have not attended college, tend to rely heavily on smartphones for online access. And in the context of book reading, members of these groups are especially likely to turn to smartphones, rather than tablets or other types of digital devices, when they engage with e-book content, says the report.
Cellphones also play a relatively prominent role in the reading habits of Americans who have not attended college.
Among all American adults:
A similar share of Americans report that they read for pleasure, for work or school, or to keep up with current events compared to the most recent time these questions were asked in 2011. However, the share of Americans who read in order to research specific topics of interest has increased by 10-percentage points over that time frame, from 74% to 84%, concludes the report.
For additional information about Pew, and to review the complete report as it was presented, please visit here