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Print Books Remain at Core of Americans' Reading Habits

Consumer Attitudes

January 16, 2014 -- New research from The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project finds the number Americans who read e-books is growing, but few have completely swapped print books for the e-versions.

The percentage of adults who read an e-book in the past year has risen to 28% -- up from 23% at the end of 2012. At the same time, about seven in ten Americans reported reading a book in print, up 4% after a slight dip in 2012, and 14% of adults listened to an audiobook.


Though e-books are rising in popularity, Pew states "print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits. Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4% of readers are e-book only.” Audiobook listeners have the most diverse reading habits overall, while fewer print readers consume books in other formats.

Overall, 76% of adults read a book in some format over the previous 12 months. The typical American adult read or listened to 5 books in the past year, and the average for all adults was 12 books. Neither the mean nor median number of books read has changed significantly over the past few years.

Source:  Pew Research Center


The January 2014 survey, conducted just after the 2013 holiday season, finds that adoption of e-book reading devices are spreading through the population. The number of adults who own an e-book reading device (e.g., Kindle or Nook) jumped from 24% in September to 32% after the holidays. Some 42% of adults now own tablet computers, up from 34% in September. 

Source:  Pew Research Center


Overall, 50% of Americans now have a dedicated handheld device (e.g., a tablet computer like an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook). 


E-book readers who own tablets or e-readers are very likely to read e-books on those devices—but those who own computers or cell phones sometimes turn to those platforms, too; Nearly one-third of ebook readers say they have read a book on their cell phone.


Source:  Pew Research Center


About: These findings come from a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on behalf of the Pew research Center between January 2-5, 2014. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults ages 18 and older living in the continental U.S. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (505, including 268 without a landline phone), and were done in English and Spanish. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3.4 percentage points.

Source:  Pew Research Center, E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps, Jan. 16, 2014.