Reading in the United States has been declining over the past decade. This does not bode well for authors and book publishers. Authors and books need readers.
The Pew Research Center has conducted annual surveys on reading rates among Americans. This year’s survey indicates that only 72% of American adults read a book within the past year in any format. This is down from 79% who had read a book in 2011.
In a somewhat surprising twist, the survey also showed that young adults 18 to 29 were more likely to have a read a book over the past year than their older counterparts. According to the survey, over the past year 72% of American adults read a book, either in whole or in part, compared to 80% of young adults.
As more adults begin to read ebooks, reading print books also declines. This year’s survey showed that only 63% of people reported reading at least one book in print in the past year, down from 69% in 2014 and 71% in 2011.
The Pew Research Study indicates that the reading habits of Americans, balanced between print, ebooks, and audiobooks, have remained fairly stable since the first report in 2011. This year’s survey shows that 27% of Americans read an ebook over the past year, up from 17% in 2011, and about 12% of Americans listened to an audiobook.
The survey also noted that women are most likely to be the book readers in the household, followed by young adults aged 18 to 29. In addition, book readers tend to have higher levels of education, and tend to be white. The average woman is reported to have read 14 books over the past year, compared with nine books by the average man. That works out to an average of 12 books read last year by most Americans—one per month.
Every author and publisher should be concerned about reading rates. The more people read, the more books can be sold. The less people read, the fewer books will be sold.
What are you doing to encourage people in your community to read? Are you involved in your local church with a reading campaign effort? If not, consider starting one at your church. Most churches sport a library or a bookstore. A reading campaign (with rewards for books read) helps grow stronger Christians in your church, and it benefits you and all Christian authors and publishers.
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