The Pew Book Reading 2016 Report

Are higher ed folks different?

September 6, 2016

The Pew Book Reading 2016 report is out!

Put down that novel, set aside that work of narrative nonfiction, and go see how your book reading behavior differs from the average American.

My hypothesis is that if Pew surveyed our IHE community, rather than - "1,520 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia” - then the results would have been very different.

The big news from the Pew survey is that American’s still read books.  All that tweeting, instagraming, and slacking has not replaced book reading. 

73% of American’s surveyed have read a book in the past year.  65% have read a print book, 28% an e-book, and 14% an audiobook.

How many books does the average American read in a year?  The answer is 12.  Women read more (15), and men read less (9).  These averages are deceiving, as people who read lots of books push up the mean values.  A better measure of central tendency is the median - a number that comes in at only 4 books per year (5 for women, 3 for men).

Could you even add up how many books that you read this past year?

The spread between the mean (17) and the median (7) number of books read in the past year for college educated respondents is interesting.  A mean of 17 books per year amongst people with a college degree or higher tells us that some of these people are reading large numbers of books.  Are you one these outliers?  Is there any chance that Pew could make the raw data available so that we could better understand the behaviors of the biggest book readers?

How many of you have read an audiobook in the past year?  Fully one-in-five (20%) of college educated respondents reporting having read at least one audiobook.  (The corresponding percentage is 14% for the entire sample).

I would bet that more than one-in-five you listened to at least one audiobook in the past year.  Am I right?

For e-book readers - 28% of all respondents read at least 1 e-book last year - the way e-books are read is changing.  Fully 15% of respondents read at least one e-book on a tablet, and 13% on a cellphone.  The percentage of American’s who read a book on a cellphone jumped from 5% in 2011 to 13% in 2016.  Only 8% of respondents read an e-book on a dedicated e-book reader, up from only 7% in 2011.

How do you read your e-books?  How has your e-book reading changed in the past 5 years?

Do you switch back and forth between print and digital books?  When do you prefer print, and when do you prefer digital?

Are you reading books on your phone?

How does your book reading behavior differ from the Pew results?

How have your book reading practices changed in the past 5 years?

What do you make of the Pew Book Reading 2016 report?



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