Study: Reading in slow decline in the U.S.

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that e-book reading is rising while print-book reading is falling, resulting in a net loss in book readers across the country over the past year.

American book readers 16 years old and older fell three points from 78 percent to 75 percent between 2011 and 2012. Print-book readers 16 years old and older fell five points between 2011 and 2012, from 72 percent to 67 percent.

However, the study’s authors — Internet & American Life Project Director Lee Rainie and associate Maeve Duggan — called the decline “small and statistically insignificant.”

The study also showed that of the overall book-reading population, 81 percent of women were readers, while only 70 percent of men read books. Book readers also numbered higher in whites and blacks compared to hispanics, highest among households earning incomes of $75,000 per year or more, and highest among college educated Americans.

During that same period of time among the same demographic, the number of people who read e-books grew seven points, from 16 percent to 23 percent. Also, 17 percent of book readers in the U.S. listened to an audiobook in the previous 12 months.

“The move toward e-book reading coincides with an increase in ownership of electronic book-reading devices,” Raine and Duggan wrote, noting that the number of Americans with either a tablet or e-reader device was about 33 percent.

The rise in e-book reading has also affected public libraries.

E-books borrowed from public libraries, Raine and Duggan observed, rose two points between 2011 and 2012, from 3 percent of American readers 16 years old or older to 5 percent.

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