Pew Research: We Still Like Our Print Books but Audio Popularity is Climbing

Image Credit: Pew Research Center

Whether reading for business or pleasure, we still like our print books. However, audiobooks are increasing in popularity with one-in-five Americans now listening to books that are being read to them by gifted narrators. My guess for this increased popularity is that audiobooks are easier on the eyes after a long day in front of a computer and you can enjoy a book while doing activities that can get tiring or boring, such as driving long distances or commuting to work. There is nothing that diverts attention away from (or enhances) a run, long walk, or intense exercise program better than getting caught up in a great story or an uplifting non-fiction book.

Here are some recent statistics from a survey done by Pew Research Center that shine a light on how we are consuming books:

  • Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 65% of adults saying they had read a print book in the year before the survey (Jan. 8 – Feb. 7, 2019)
  • There has been an increase in the share of Americans who report listening to audiobooks, from 14% to 20%
  • Overall, Americans read an average (mean) of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read four books in the past 12 months
  • Relatively few Americans only consume digital books (which include audiobooks and e-books) to the exclusion of print. 37% of Americans say they read only print books, while 28% read in these digital formats and also read print books. Just 7% of Americans say they only read books in digital formats and have not read any print books in the past 12 months.
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