5 Bookish Facts About American Reading Habits
The U.S. may not be the most avid country of readers on Earth (that title probably goes to India), but most Americans do occasionally crack open a book—even if we do spend way more time watching television than turning pages. Here are five facts about American reading habits that may surprise you, courtesy of a recently conducted survey from the Pew Research Center:
1. SOME PEOPLE HAVE NOT EVEN TOUCHED A BOOK THIS YEAR.
Around seven out of 10 Americans have read at least part of a book format this year, either in print or in electronic form. That means that around 30 percent of the country has not even read part of a book in the past year.
2. YOUNG PEOPLE READ MORE THAN THEIR ELDERS.
Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are more likely to have read a book than people in older generations. Only 68 percent of 50 to 64 year olds, and 69 percent of the 65+ age range have read a book in the last year, while 80 percent of young adults have. While it would be great to herald the literary appreciation of the younger generation, it may simply be that young adults are more likely to be students, and would thus be required to pick up a novel at some point.
3. AMERICANS READ AN AVERAGE OF 12 BOOKS A YEAR.
The average number of books read by survey respondents: 12. However, this average might be skewed by people who’ve read far more than 12 books in a year, as the median number read was just four. People with a college education or more tend to read more, finishing an average 17 books each over the past 12 months.
4. READING HABITS ARE GENDERED.
Women tend to read more than men, a phenomenon that has been documented in several studies. And women tend to be more avid consumers of fiction in particular [PDF], though critics note that the publishing world is predominantly male and most book reviews are written by men. Pew finds that the average woman read 14 books in the last year, while the average man read nine. Given the impact of education on reading rates, one reason might be that women are currently more likely to graduate from college and attend grad school than men.
5. PRINT ISN’T DEAD..BUT IT’S DECLINING.
Only 63 percent of Americans say they’ve read a traditional print book in the past year, compared to 71 percent in 2011. However, other data sources have not shown a huge jump to digital books from the paper ship (maybe because people find that physical books are better for some activities, like reading to children or reading for a class). Digital book sales have fallen by 10 percent in the first few months of this year.