The number of people who are reading printed books is declining. But reading isn't. According to the Pew Research Center, we're buying Kindles and Nooks and reading more e-books at a rapidly growing rate.
Readers, it's time to turn a page. In a December 27, 2012 report entitled, "E-book Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines," the Pew Research Center found that "the number of those who read e-books increased from 16% of all Americans ages 16 and older to 23%." At the same time, the report says, the number of people who read printed books in the previous 12 months "fell from 72% of the population ages 16 and older to 67%."
It's not a sharp decline. The survey of 2,252 Americans (ages 16 and older), found that 89% of the book readers had read a printed book (or 67% of all those ages 16 and older). At the same time, 30% of the book readers said they had read an e-book, which translates into 23% of all those ages 16 and older. An April Pew research project showed that "in mid-December 2011, 17% of American adults had reported they read an e-book in the previous year; by February, 2012, the share increased to 21%."
Who are these readers? In the April 2012 report, Pew researchers stated:
Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers. Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books. Compared with other book readers, they read more books. They read more frequently for a host of reasons: for pleasure, for research, for current events, and for work or school. They are also more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general, often starting their search online.
The people who read e-books are also, to no surprise, all owners of either a tablet computer or e-book reading device. "25% of Americans ages 16 and older own tablet computers such as iPads or Kindle Fires, up from 10% who owned tablets in late 2011" says the report; And in late 2012, "19% of Americans ages 16 and older own e-book reading devices such as Kindles and Nooks, compared with 10% who owned such devices at the same time last year." Put it together, and 33% of adult Americans now own an e-book reader or tablet.
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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols