PEW study examines reading habits of Americans

More than eight in 10 Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in 10 used their local public library, according to a just released Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

“At the youngest end of the spectrum, high schoolers in their late teens (ages 16-17) and college-aged young adults (ages 18-24) are especially likely to have read a book or used the library in the past 12 months. And although their library usage patterns may often be influenced by the requirements of school assignments, their interest in the possibilities of mobile technology may also point the way toward opportunities of further engagement with libraries later in life.”

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project analyzed readers between the ages of 16 and 29 “because interest in them is especially high in the library world and the publishing world. This report examines how they encounter and consume books in different formats. It flows out of a larger effort to assess the reading habits of all Americans ages 16 and older as e-books change the reading landscape and the borrowing services of libraries.”

All reports in this series can be found at:

The main findings in this report are from a nationally-representative phone survey of 2,986 people ages 16 and older that was administered from Nov. 16-Dec. 21, 2011. This report also contains the voices and insights of an online panel of library patrons ages 16-29 who borrow e-books, fielded in the spring of 2012.

Among the main findings:

  •  83 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year. Some 75 percent read a print book, 19 percent read an e-book, and 11% listened to an audiobook.
  • Among Americans who read e-books, those under age 30 are more likely to read their e-books on a cell phone (41 percent) or computer (55 percent) than on an e-book reader such as a Kindle (23 percent) or tablet (16 percent).
  • Overall, 47 percent of younger Americans read long-form e-content such as books, magazines or newspapers. E-content readers under age 30 are more likely than older e-content readers to say that they are reading more these days due to the availability of e-content (40 percent vs. 28 percent).
  • 60 percent of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year. Some 46% used the library for research, 38% borrowed books (print books, audiobooks, or e-books), and 23% borrowed newspapers, magazines, or journals.
  • Many of these young readers do not know they can borrow an e-book from a library, and a majority of them express the wish they could do so on pre-loaded e-readers. Some 10% of the e-book readers in this group have borrowed an e-book from a library and, among those who have not borrowed an e-book, 52% said they were unaware they could do so. Some 58 percent of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service. Among those in this under-30 age group, three distinct clusters emerge: high schoolers (ages 16 and 17), college-aged young adults (ages 18-24), and early-career adults (ages 25-29):


Read the rest of the report here:

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