Pew Survey: Fewer Americans Reading Books

Posted on October 22, 2015

Number of Book Readers Dips in 20151 Pew Research Center study

A new study by The Pew Research Center reports that the number of Americans reading books has declined over time. The survey revealed that 72% of respondents read at least one book during the past year. In 2001, 79% reported reading a book in the past year. That question asked respondents if they had read a book in the past year in any format, be it print or digital.

The survey also asked about ebooks versus print books. There was a small decline in the number of American adults who read print books. In the past year 63% say they have read a print book in the past year, In 2011, 71% of adults had read a print book.

Digital book sales are now approximately 20% of the book market. Digital sales have been slowing, although print sales are remaining strong. 27% of adults say they read an ebook in the past year; that's up from 17% in 2011. 12% of adults say they listened to an audiobook in the past year, which is roughly the same as prior years.

The only surprise in the survey this year was the age gap in book reading. Eighty percent of young people, defined as being between 18 and 20, read a book in the past year. Only 71% of the 30-49 year old crowd read one in the past year and 68% of the 50-64 demographic had read one. Overall the mean average of books read in the past year was twelve and the median number of books read was four. So quite a few people read one book per month.

Image: Pew Research Center

More from Writers Write

  • James Bennet Resigns as New York Times Editorial Page Editor

  • Melania Trump Reads The Little Rabbit by Nicola Killen for Easter

  • Katy Perry Wins Dark Horse Copyright Case After Federal Judge Overturns Jury Decision

  • London Book Fair Canceled Over Coronavirus

  • Facebook Appears to Target Pinterest with New Hobbi App