The newest Pew Research Center survey of the reading habits of American adults found a slight decline in the percentage of adults who read a book in its entirety or in part, in 2015 compared to 2014. The survey, conducted this year from March 17 to April 12, found that 72% of American adults have read a book (in any format) within the last year, down from 76% in 2013 and from 79% in 2011, the first year the survey was conducted.
The decline in reading in 2015 occurred in books across all formats: print, digital, and audio. Print remained the preferred format for reading, although the percentage of adults who read a print book in the past year fell to 63%, from 69% in 2014. The percentage of adults who have read a print book has fluctuated from 2011 to 2015, but the most recent survey also found that in 2015, for the first time since the survey began, e-book readership declined on a year-to-year basis. In the first year of the survey, 17% of adults had read an e-book in the past year, a rate that rose to 28% in 2014, but dipped by one percentage point in 2015. The Pew e-book finding is in keeping with a host of industry data that has found a cooling interest in e-books, which started in the second half of 2014 and has continued into 2015.
Young adults—those 18 to 29 years old—were found to be the most avid readers in the most recent survey, with 80% reporting that they had read a book in some format in the past year. Adults in the 30-to-49-year-old age bracket were the second largest reading group, with 71%. Young adults were the most active in reading print books (69% had read a printed book in the past 12 months) and e-books (34%). Readers ages 30–49 were only slightly behind young adults in terms of reading e-books (33% had read an e-book in the last year), but e-book engagement among those over 50 trailed off noticeably, with only 15% of adults over 65 reporting that they had read an e-book in the past 12 months.
The percentage of adults who listened to audiobooks in 2015 fell from 14% in 2014 to 12% in 2015, but the participation level remained above the 11% of adults who listened to an audiobook in 2011.
Other Pew findings confirmed long-time trends: women read more than men do, and reading levels rise with the amount of education of adults and with higher income levels.
Source: Pew Research Center