Reading Holds Steady – Pew Survey

September 6, 2016

A new Pew study reveals that Americans’ reading habits are being maintained. What’s more, the percentages reading an ebook vs. a print book have been level as well for the past four years.  While single method only readers favor print over ebooks by 38% to 6%, what’s really interesting is that a solid 28% read in both formats.  A full 26% in this survey have not read a *single book in the past year* and admit it (I figure reading books is an admired activity that one might inflate in self-reporting).  Still, even if the read-a-book figure is high, it’s consistently so, indicating no decline in overall reading.  What I like also about a survey like this is that it’s asking people how many books they read – whether self-published or traditionally published, whether bought at big box retail or borrowed from a library, etc. – not trying to track sales, so there is none of the usual suspicion that a certain market is being missed entirely.

Another note of utter stability is the age breakdown, indicating no necessary change in these preferences in the near future.  The factors in preferring digital seem to be income and education.  From the study:

Relatively few Americans are “digital-only” book readers regardless of their demographic characteristics. However, some demographic groups are slightly more likely than others to do all of their reading in digital format. For instance, 7% of college graduates are digital-only book readers (compared with just 3% of those who have not graduated from high school), as are 8% of those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (compared with 3% of Americans with incomes of $30,000 or less). Interestingly, young adults are no more likely than older adults to be “digital-only” book readers: 6% of 18- to 29-year-olds read books in digital formats only, compared with 7% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5% of those 50 and older.



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