January 18, 2022

Data Analysis: Sunil Iyengar, NEA’s Director of Research & Analysis, on “How Do We Read? Let’s Count the Ways”

From a National Endowment For the Arts “Arts Work” Blog Post by Sunil Iyengar:

Within the next few months, the National Endowment for the Arts will release a research report on how Americans read books and literature. Based on data from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the report finds that 55.5 percent of U.S. adults (131 8. million) read books outside work or school—either in print or digital formats, inclusive of audiobooks.

How do these survey findings track with the ascendancy of digital/audio reading formats? Put it this way: at 44.5 percent, the share of adults who read or listened to books in digital formats (though these digital readers may have read some print books as well) is now greater than the share of adults who read print books alone (25.1 percent).

Some other takeaways from the report:

  • Young readers, especially those aged 18-24, are more likely than other groups to be digital/audio readers who also may be reading print books. Americans aged 65 and older are more likely than other groups to be print-only readers.
  • Regardless of the format they use, older Americans read books at generally higher rates than younger readers.
  • Adults who read e-books and listen to audiobooks consume the most books per year: a median of ten versus four for print-only readers.
  • Readers of poetry and graphic novels are more likely to be digital/audio readers (who may also read print books) than print-only readers. By contrast, readers of novels or short stories, or works of biography, history, and religion, are more likely to be print-only readers.
  • Digital/audio readers frequently engage in other cultural activities and support the arts. Print-only readers report comparably lower levels of these activities.

Read the Complete Blog Post

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.