Despite competition from an ever-increasing menu of entertainment choices now available to Americans, book readership in America is holding steady, according to a new survey. And most of the book readers surveyed, the report found, prefer to read print books.
The report “Book Readership 2016,” released this week by the Pew Research Center found, that 73% of Americans have read a book in the last year, largely unchanged from 2012 levels (although lower than the 79% recorded in 2011, when Pew began tracking reading habits).
(Pew released this video, highlighting some of the survey's findings.)
Among the survey’s most notable findings: e-books have hit a plateau. After posting an 11 percentage point jump from 2011-2014 (from 17% to 28%), e-book readership has seen no change in the last two years. Overall, 28% of Americans reported reading an e-book in the last year.
On the other hand, roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) reported reading a print book in the last year, identical to the share of Americans who reported doing so in 2012. Notably, just 6% of respondents said they read e-books exclusively, while 38% said they are print-only readers.
Despite finding a plateau in e-book readership, the survey found that how readers are accessing e-books has changed significantly. From 2011 to 2016, the number of Americans who reported reading an e-book on a tablet increased nearly fourfold (from 4% to 15%), while smartphone reading more than doubled (from 5% to 13%).
Just 8% of Americans said they used a dedicated e-reader, roughly unchanged from 2012 levels.
The survey also found a modest bump among audiobook listeners. While the market for digital audio has been cited as a bright spot for publishers in recent years, the report found that the share of American adults who listen to audiobooks has risen only marginally. In 2011, 11% of Americans reported listening to an audiobook in the last year, compared with 14% now.
The report was drawn from a national sample of 1,520 American adults (18 or or older) surveyed by Pew Research Center from March 7 to April 4, 2016, with 381 respondents interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,139 interviewed on a cellphone (including 636 who had no landline telephone).