Recently I stood in line for a sale at a local bookstore. The first hundred people in the door received a book bag with swag including a five dollar gift card. I’m always excited about free books, and I was right in the middle of the queue. We had about 20 minutes to wait before the doors opened, so we started talking. The guy behind me was surprised he had so much company. He’d read an article that said the average American only read one book a year.
That didn’t seem right. All of us in the immediate conversation had read more, but then we were standing outside a bookstore waiting for it to open—maybe we were the exceptions to this one-book-a-year phenomenon.
But the one-book-a-year concept bothered me. After I came home with new books in hand, I opened Google, researched readers and soon found the one-book-one year notion. It turns out it’s not the whole story. Here are thirteen statistics I found.
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1. According to the Pew Research Center 2013 Reading Snapshot, the typical American read five books during the year.
2. Although a whopping 23% of those surveyed reported that they hadn’t read even one book during the same period.
3. I’m not sure I know many of those non-book consumers. Most of my friends are responsible for skewing the average for books read in 2013 to twelve books, about one a month. I know this because my friends and I discuss what we’re read and we will be talking readers in general in the future.
4. It turns out 82 percent of those who responded that they’d read at least one book in 2013 were women
5. while only 69 percent of men surveyed reported they had read one or more books.
6. Eighty-nine percent of those who told the Pew Researcher they’d read a book reported that it was a print book.
7. That said, the population of e-book readers is growing. In the 2013 Pew survey, the number of those who read e-books increased from 16% of all Americans (ages 16 and older) to 23%.
8. At the end of 2012, 19% of Americans (ages 16 and older) owned Kindles, Nooks or other e-book reading devices.
9. Again, referring to the Pew survey, the most likely e-book reader was a college graduate,
10. who lived in a household earning more than $75,000.
11. And that reader’s age was between 30 and 49.
12. The readers didn’t come from a single environment. Seventy-seven percent of those in an urban community completed one or more books a year, compared 76 percent of people in a rural community and
13. seventy-five percent of those in suburban areas.
All these statistics got me thinking about my own reading habits. I don’t keep track of how many books I go through, but I’d guess it’s about 1-3 a week. Most years have 52 weeks, so again I’m guessing, but I probably read between 53 and 159 books a year. Sigh, it’s clear I’m addicted to stories. Yet, there’s another factor in my book-devouring habit and that is I have a long commute, so I listen to audio books.
How about you? Where do you fit in these statistics? How many books do you think you read? Please share.