A survey of reading

The big news floating around literary news outlets today is a survey released by the PewResearch Center.

It’s absolutely fascinating.

Although the study’s primary focus is on the growing trend of reading electronically, it has so much more in it than just that.

A few of the most interesting points:

The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.

  • Not so shocking to me. I love ink-and-paper books and I love my Nook. I read both, avidly, and so do quite a few of the readers I know personally.

In our December 2011 survey, we found that 72% of American adults had read a printed book and 11% listened to an audiobook in the previous year, compared with the 17% of adults who had read an e-book.

  • Also, not too surprising. E-readers are still *relatively* new and also expensive. Plus, every month it seems there’s a new one so some people may be waiting for the right one for them. Others just may be turned off by e-readers and plan never to own one.

What was interesting was some of the reaction to the fact that the study (apparently) shows that 19% of people don’t read at all. And I say the apparently because this is something a HuffPost article pointed out that I couldn’t find in the survey. Which would mean more than 50 million Americans don’t read at all.


Eh, not to me. I know a lot of people who read and a lot who don’t. I guess that’s a high number for not reading a single novel in a year. But then, reading is a commitment. More so than a 30 minute TV show or 3 hour movie. People are busier (or so we assume) these days. There’s not as much time for reading, people say. Though I think there’s not as much interest. And to compare the amount people read today to the 1970s? Big difference between now and then as to what was seen as entertainment.

OK, so I might have rambled a bit there. But what I, personally, think is that a lot more people read more often than I presumed and more books than I presumed. I think it’s impressive only 19% don’t read at all, because that means about 80% DO read at LEAST a book a year.

What are your thoughts on the survey? Are the findings surprising to you?


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