The Pew Research Center released a new report today which looks into how and what Americans are reading, and in one fell swoop they cast doubt on a 2014 prediction from one pundit and invalidated the assumptions made by another. A telephone survey of 1,005 US adults has revealed that a growing number read an ebook in the past year, and that nearly half own an ebook reader or tablet.
And best of all, for the 3rd year in a row ereader ownership is up in the US.
A full 28% of respondents of the January said that they read ebook in the past 12 months. That may be lower than the 68% of the survey group who reported reading a paper book, but it is still a significant increase from the 23% in last year’s survey who had read an ebook.
That is a rather interesting result, and it makes me wonder whether the AAP sales data from the past year accurately reflects the entire market. Surely all these new readers had to have been buying ebooks, right? What are the chances they were all simply reading free ebooks?
I don’t think that’s very likely, not even with the current recession, because the Pew survey also showed that ereader ownership has also increased over the past year. 32% of the survey group now own an ereader. That is a nice increase from the 26% of the January 2013 survey group who reported the same.
Tablet ownership has also increased, with 42% respondents saying that they owned an iPad, Kindle Fire, or some other tablet.
The survey goes on to show that women are more likely to read ebooks (33% vs 23%) and they were also more likely to own an ereader (33% vs 29%), but about the same percentage of men and women owned tablets. A later section of the report also showed that women on average read more books (both digital and print) than men.
And people aren’t just reading on a tablet or ebook reader. They’re also reading more on smartphones than they were 3 years ago. But even with the surge in device usage, ereaders were still the most used reading device with 57% of those who read ebooks reporting that they used one (compared to 55% for tablets and 32% for cellphones).
College graduates were of course more likely to be readers and gadget owners than respondents without a college education, and there was also a correlation between the number of books read and the education level.
And finally, the report found that there was a fair degree of overlap between print, ebook, and audiobook lovers, with only 13% of ebook readers having given up paper entirely:
- 87% of e-book readers also read a print book in the past 12 months, and 29% listened to an audiobook.
- 84% of audiobook listeners also read a print book in the past year, and 56% also read an e-book.
- A majority of print readers read only in that format, although 35% of print book readers also read an e-book and 17% listened to an audiobook.
The report goes into an extensive ideographic breakdown of the survey group, and you can find it on the Pew Research Center website.