Reading On the Decline in America

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.

Related Posts:
Who is Reading?
Develop a Global Strategy
The State of Christian Fiction

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Christian Belief in America

Is Christianity in decline in America? Many people believe it is.

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However, a new Pew Research study recently found that a large percentage of Americans still hold to traditional beliefs about Jesus. The study found that:

  • 73 percent of U.S. adults believe Jesus was born to a virgin.
  • 81 percent believe the baby Jesus was actually laid in a manger.
  • 75 percent believe wise men guided by a star brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
  • 74 percent believe an angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds nearby.

The study indicates that 65 percent of American believe all four of these elements of the birth of Jesus, while a mere 14 percent believe none of them.

Hollywood has caught onto this strong and possibly growing faith element in American society. Have you noticed how many faith-based movies Hollywood has been producing lately?

The results of this survey bring good news for authors and publishers of Christian material. After all, who reads Christian materials? For the most part, Christian books are created for those who already have some belief in Jesus. The whole purpose of Christian books is to help those who know God gain a deeper relationship with Him and for those who are seeking to find Him. The more people that profess some belief in Jesus, the larger the audience is for Christian books.

From the results of this study, it looks like Christian books will continue to have a strong standing for the next few years. So, if you write or publish Christian books, take heart. While you will still need to identify your target audience and market to that audience, in actuality, that audience may be larger than you think.

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How Many Americans are Reading?

Earlier this year, Pew reported that according to their research 76% of American adults reported that they had read a book in some format in 2013, with the typical adult reading or listening to five books a year. Those are great numbers. If true, it would mean good news for authors and publishers—the majority of American adults are still reading at least one book each year.

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Not so. After reporting the findings listed above, Pew came out and said that had discovered a flaw in their study. Many of the American adults surveyed by Pew were under the impression that prizes would be awarded, so they gave answers they thought would increase their odds of winning. In essence, as many as 38% of the survey respondents lied.

Given those numbers, the findings appear to be closer to 38% of American adults reporting that they had read at least one book in the past year. These numbers are not as bright. One piece of good news for Christian authors and publishers is that research consistently shows that Christian adults report reading more than the general populace.

Whether 38% of American adults read a book each year, or whether that number is closer to 76%, the important thing for anyone marketing a book to remember is that connecting with your potential readers is key.

In other words, if your target audience does not read, you will find selling books difficult whether or not you connect with your audience. On the other hand, if your target audience does read, you still need to find them and connect with them to sell your books.

What is your best vehicle for connecting with your target audience?

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