Print Books Still More Popular than eBooks or Audio Books, Study Finds

Print Books Still More Popular than eBooks or Audio Books, Study Finds

A recent study by the Pew Research Center, a fact tank that informs the public about the issues and trends shaping America and the world, found that a growing number of people are reading ebooks on tablets and smartphones, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats, such as ebooks and audio books.


Print books reading habits


The study established that while 65 percent of Americans have read a print book in the last year, only 28 percent have read an ebook and 14 percent have listened to an audio book. Nearly 40 percent of Americans exclusively read books in print compared to only 6 percent that are digital-only readers.

“Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product,” wrote Andrew Perrin, Research Assistant at Pew Research Center, in a post announcing the study findings on the official Pew Research Center website. “Fully 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14%).”

The survey also found that Americans read an average of 12 books a year, while the typical American reads 4 books per year. The reasons Americans read varies. Eighty-four percent said they read to research specific topics, while 82 percent said it is to keep up with current events. 80 percent read for pleasure and 57 percent cited the reason for reading as work or school.

Pew also observed that the share of American adults who read books in any format has remained largely unchanged over the last four years. Women, however, are more likely than men to read books in general and also more likely to read traditional bound-paper print books.


ebooks reading habits


According to Pew, some demographic groups are slightly more likely than others to do all of their reading in digital format. Young adults, for instance, are no more likely than older adults to be “digital-only” book readers: 6 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds read books in digital formats only, compared with 7 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5 percent of those 50 and older.

Moreover, 7 percent of college graduates are digital-only book readers, compared with just 3 percent of those who have not graduated from high school. Eight percent of those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more are also digital-only book readers, compared with 3 percent of Americans with incomes of $30,000 or less.

Interestingly, those people who read books in digital formats said they rather prefer to read ebooks on tablets and smartphones than dedicated e-readers. This is despite the fact that Americans today have an enormous variety of e-readers available to them at affordable prices.

“The share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time, while the share reading on e-book reading devices has not changed,” wrote Perrin.

Unlike with print books, men and women are equally likely to read digital-format books. Smartphones, however, are playing an especially prominent role in the e-reading habits of certain demographic groups, such as non-whites and those who have not attended college noted Pew.

See Also: 12 Reasons Reading Widely Is So Important For Writers.


George Mathews is a staff writer for He is passionate about personal growth and development.