Pew Study: Most Readers Prefer Print over Digital Books


More people are using smartphones and tablets to read books, but a majority of readers prefer traditional print books over digital formats, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center.

“When people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print than a digital product,” according to the study. “Fully 65 percent of Americans have read a print book last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28 percent) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14 percent).”

Reading Research Results

The center conducted a telephone survey of 1,520 American adults from March 7 to April 4, 2016.  Here are the highlights of the survey results:

  • Seventy-three percent of Americans have read books in the past year, which is largely unchanged since 2012.
  • Americans read an average of 12 books every year, while the typical (median) American has read four books in the past year.
  • Sixty-five percent of Americans have read a print book last year compared to 28 percent, who have read an e-book.
  • Thirty-eight percent read print books but did not read e-books.
  • Twenty-eight percent read books in both print and digital formats.
  • Six percent read digital books but not print books.
  • The number of Americans who read books on tablet computers increased from 4 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2016.
  • During the same period, the share of Americans who read books on smartphones increased from 5 percent to 13 percent.
  • During the same period, the share of Americans who read books on e-readers increased from 7 percent to 11 percent.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, and nonadvocacy “fact tank.” It conducts research on U.S. politics and policy, journalism and media, Internet, and science and technology, among other things.

Read more about the Pew Research Center survey here.

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