April 14, 2021

Pew Research Releases New Reading Data: Print Books Remain Most Popular Format; Use of Audiobooks Continues to Climb

From Pew Research:

Roughly seven-in-ten U.S. adults (72%) say they have read a book in the past 12 months in any format, a figure that has remained largely unchanged since 2012, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 2019. Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 65% of adults saying they had read a print book in the year before the survey.

And while shares of print and e-book readers are similar to those from a Center survey conducted in 2016, there has been an uptick in the share of Americans who report listening to audiobooks, from 14% to 20%.

Despite some growth in certain digital formats, it remains the case that relatively few Americans only consume digital books (which include audiobooks and e-books) to the exclusion of print. Some 37% of Americans say they read only print books, while 28% read in these digital formats and also read print books. Just 7% of Americans say they only read books in digital formats and have not read any print books in the past 12 months. (About a quarter of Americans haven’t read a book in any format in the past year.)

Demographic differences in book reading in 2019 are similar to the patterns seen in past Center surveys. For example, adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree are more likely to be book readers than those who have only attended some college, high school graduates and those with less than a high school education. And adults ages 18 to 29 are more likely to read books than those 65 and older. At the same time, some groups have become more or less likely to read books in certain formats than was true in 2018.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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