The number of Americans who claim to have read a book in the previous year declined slightly, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. However, in a somewhat surprising twist, the survey also showed that young adults 18-29 were more likely to have a read a book over the past year than their older counterparts.
According to the survey, which was launched in 2011 and has been conducted annually since, over the past year 72% of American adults read a book, either in whole or in part, compared to 80% of young adults.
Looking at other age groups, the survey showed that 71% of those in the 30 to 49 age group read a book in the last year, while 68% did so in the 50 to 64 age group.
Despite reports that e-book sales have slowed and print book sales stabilized, the Pew survey found a slight decline in the number of American adults who read print books, with 63% saying they read at least one print book last year, down from 71% reported in 2011. Twenty-seven percent of American adults surveyed said they did not read any books over the past year.
The Pew Research Study indicates that the reading habits of Americans, balanced between print, e-books and audiobooks, have remained fairly stable since the first report in 2011. This year's survey shows that 27% of Americans read an e-book over the past year, up from 17% in 2011, and about 12% of Americans listened to an audiobook. According to Pew the figures, which cover the period 2011-2014, are “statistically similar” based on the size of the e-book reader population.
The survey also noted that women are most likely to be the book readers in the household, followed by young adults aged 18-29. In addition, book readers tend to have higher levels of education, and tend to be white. The average woman is reported to have read 14 books over the past year, compared with nine books by the average man.
According to the survey, these “patterns largely hold for overall book reading and for the different reading platforms – printed books and e-books.”