We ran a national poll to see how many people read books. The answers surprised us.
The pandemic shifted the lifestyle habits of many Americans, including how, when and if they read. To get a clearer picture of current reading habits over the course of the past 12 months, we conducted a survey of 1,621 American adults. The results revealed some interesting insights into how much people are reading and what they’re reading.
Almost half of the respondents haven’t read any books in over a year: 48.5%
Print books were the most read books: 35.4%
The 65+ age group recorded the highest population of print book readers: 45.1%
The 45-54 age group contains the highest population of non-readers: 60.9%
Males recorded a slightly higher population of non-readers compared to females: 51.4%
Reading In The United States—Secondary Sources
According to the Pew Research Center, about 64% of American adults say they have read a book in the past 12 months. This is a similar share to the previous year, and is consistent with the findings from 2020.
The National Endowment for the Arts released a report in 2015 that showed literary reading among Americans had declined significantly over the previous 20 years. In 1992, 56% of Americans had read at least one work of literature in the previous year. By 2014, that number had fallen to 46%.
The NEA report also found that literary reading was more common among older adults than younger ones. In 2014, 53% of adults age 65 and older reported reading literature, compared with just 36% of adults ages 18-24.
The American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, on average, Americans age 15 and older spent about 7 minutes per day reading in 2017. This was down from 9 minutes in 2014.
These statistics suggest that although a majority of Americans say they have read a book in the past year, literary reading is on the decline, particularly among younger adults. Americans are also spending less time reading overall.
A Gender Perspective
Our report found that women are more likely than men to have read a book in the past 12 months. This is evident in the first two book types:
38.7% vs 32.0%: Print books
17.1% vs 13.6%: E-books
Also, based on analysis of the response “I didn’t read any books,” men reported a higher percentage compared to women (51.4% vs 45.7%)
Book Reading By Age Groups
When we analyzed the results from a generational view point, we found the following:
The 45-54 age group has the highest number of non-readers: 60.9%
The 65+ age group reported the lowest number of non-readers: 41.4%
The 18-24 age group reported the highest number of audiobook listeners: 17.0%
The 65+ age group had the lowest number of audiobook listeners: 5.3%
The 65+ age group registered the highest number of Bible readers: 1.9%
The data indicates that the number of non-readers increases with age, while the number of audiobook listeners decreases with age.
This may be due to a variety of factors, such as declining health or vision problems.
The Reduced Reading Mentality Is Caused By A Variety Of Factors
The fast pace of the modern world: With the demands of work, family, and social obligations, many people feel they simply don’t have time to read.
The rise of digital media: In our constantly connected world, it’s easy to get your news and entertainment from sources other than books.
The cost of books: Books can be expensive, especially if you’re buying them new. Used books are a cheaper option, but many people simply don’t have the time to hunt for them.
The declining popularity of reading: As fewer people read, it becomes less socially acceptable to do so. This can create a vicious cycle that leads to even fewer people reading.
The Validity Of Our Report
While our report does not reflect the official data, it does provide some key insights that can be used to understand general reading trends.
Some important things to keep in mind are that:
The data is based on a survey of American adults (18+), so it may not be representative of the entire population.
The data is self-reported, so it’s possible that some people may have overestimated or underestimated their reading habits.
The data only reflects the reading habits of those who responded to the survey, so it’s possible that there are other groups of people who read more or less than what is represented in the data.
Despite these limitations, the data provides a valuable snapshot of how reading habits have changed over time, and how they differ between different groups of people.
We conducted a Google poll of 1,621 people. The survey was open to anyone aged 18 and over who wanted to participate.
The survey was conducted online using the Google Forms platform. We created a survey with the sole question “What books have you read in the past 12 months?” and offered a selection of reading materials which the respondents were required to choose from.
The survey had a total of 1,621 respondents
The respondents were aged 18 and over
The respondents were from a variety of different backgrounds and occupations
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