New Poll Shows the Majority of Americans Read eBooks – or Does it?

5584753106_db56d98926[1]The Pew Research Center, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, and other public interest groups have been recording the gradual rise in digital reading, but now there are signs that they may have been under-reporting the ebook adoption rate.

A new survey report from Neilsen shows that 54% of Americans read ebooks. The report is based on a poll by Harris Interactive, a company owned by Nielsen, and it radically contradicts the survey data linked to in the paragraph above.

A total of 2,234 American adults were polled in March 2014, with about 84% reporting that they had read a book in the past year and about 65% reporting that they bought an ebook in the past year. Women tended to buy more books, and they tended to read more.

46% of the respondents only read paper books, 6% only read ebooks, and the rest read a mix of both formats. The report also showed that 51% were reading about the same amount today as they were 6 months ago, with the rest mostly split between reading either more or less.

You can find the complete report here, including the questions asked by the pollsters.

This blogger doesn't know why the Harris poll achieved such a different result than the other two polls, which mostly agreed with each other. Harris Interactive wasn't asking trick questions or ones that would require complicated answers.

Got an idea for the difference? The comment section is open.

image by Wiertz Sébastien

About Nate Hoffelder (11589 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on New Poll Shows the Majority of Americans Read eBooks – or Does it?

  1. I’d love to believe those numbers but that 84% of readers seems off.
    Either they have a sample issue or they were lied to.
    The only way you get 84% of adults reading is if reading=open a book.

  2. I’m not surprised by the results. What would really interest me, however, is how these results change over time. So, I wish that they had started doing this survey 10 years ago, and I hope that they will continue doing this survey every year for the next ten to 20 years.

    Not covered in the survey was audio books. They sell audio books to people, and I assume that those people listen to them. I guess that doesn’t count as “reading”.

    I found table 3, which explores format preference (paper vs eBook) confusing. The base is supposedly “all adults” but the 35% of adults who read zero books are not represented in the table. That is, if you add up all the numbers for the 5 options, ranging from “I only read hard copy books” to “I only read ebooks” the toatal 1s 100 percent. Shouldn’t this total be 65% with another 35 reporting “I don’t read at all”?

  3. I think these two words “surveyed online” explain a lot of things.

    One other minor thing. What is their definition for an ebook.
    For instance, does a 10.000 word story qualify?

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