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read!I found on the Passive Voice a reference to the latest Harris Poll concerning Americans’ reading habits.  The upshot was that Americans who read more electronically, read more, period.  There is, however, a wealth of useful information to be gleamed from the report.  So, who exactly are our readers?  And how much of a difference does the medium – paper or electronic – make?

Not long ago hardcover and paperback were the main options available to readers, but then e-readers hit the scene, followed by tablet computers. With the additional options of reading on your computer or your phone, these days it seems as though just about the only thing standing between Americans and a good read is setting aside the time.

Americans seem to be embracing their broader options, as the majority (54%) currently read e-books, including two-thirds of Millennials (66%).

When asked to consider any format – not just hardcovers and paperbacks, but electronic formats as well – a strong majority of Americans (84%) say they read at least one book in an average year, with over a third (36%) saying they read more than ten. On average, Americans report reading roughly 17 books per year. Looking at demographics:

  • Matures read 25 books per year,
  • Baby Boomers read 19 books and
  • Millennials read 13. However, they were more likely than their elders to have read more in the past six months.

Sex-wise, women read twice as many books as men (23 as opposed to 11).  This ties in with research by the Reading Agency, according to which almost half (46%) of the men asked are reading fewer books now than they did in the past; a third prefer the internet and 30% engage more with film and TV. Indeed, almost 30% of men admit that they haven’t really picked up a book since they were obliged to at school.

Interestingly enough, those who read either more or exclusively in the e-book format are more likely to read over 20 books in an average year (30%) than either those who read more/only in hard copy (18%) or those who read in both formats equally (21%). They also report a higher average readership per year than either hard copy hardliners or equal-opportunity readers (22.5 books vs. 16 and 15, respectively).

Finally, those favoring e-books purchased roughly twice as many as those preferring hard copies (fourteen, as opposed to seven).  However, the hard copy format is still king. Nearly half of Americans (46%) say they only read hard copy books, with an additional 16% saying they read more hard copy books than e-books. Seventeen percent (17%) read about the same number of hard copy and e-format books, while 15% read more and 6% read exclusively in the electronic format.

For the full post and the original data, visit the original Harris Poll page.