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More Americans Are Turning Page to E-Books, Pew Survey Finds

More Americans Are Turning Page to E-Books, Pew Survey Finds
December 28, 2012 11:30AM

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The Pew survey reports that 75 percent of Americans aged 16 and older said they had read a book on any platform in the previous 12 months. Pew said that was not statistically significantly different from the 78 percent who in late 2011 said in a survey they had read a book in the previous 12 months. But e-readership rose seven percentage points.

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E-book readers are uniting and taking over the print world. Well, sort of. In the past year, the number of consumers aged 16 and over who read e-books rose from 16 percent to 23 percent. During that same period, the number who read printed books fell from 72 percent to 67 percent. So says the Pew Research Center.

According to Pew's latest research, the move toward e-book reading coincides with an increase in ownership of electronic book reading devices. For example, Pew reports, the number of consumers who own a tablet computer or e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook grew from 18 percent in late 2011 to 33 percent in late 2012. What's more, 25 percent of Americans ages 16 and older own tablet computers such as iPads or Kindle Fires.

"This move toward e-books has also affected libraries. The share of recent library users who have borrowed an e-book from a library has increased from 3 percent last year to 5 percent this year," the report said. "Moreover, awareness of e-book lending by libraries is growing. The share of those in the overall population who are aware that libraries offer e-books has jumped from 24 percent late last year to 31 percent now."

Who Reads E-Books?

The tide is turning, but who is reading e-books? The most likely candidates are consumers with college or graduate degrees, those who live in households earning more than $75,000, and those whose ages fall between 30 and 49, according to Pew.

The survey also reports that 75 percent of Americans ages 16 and older said they had read a book on any platform in the previous 12 months. Pew says that is not statistically significantly different from the 78 percent who in late 2011 said in a survey they had read a book in the previous 12 months.

Specifically, 89 percent of the book readers said they had read a printed book. This translates into 67 percent of all those ages 16 and older. Another 30 percent of the book readers said they had read an e-book. This translates into 23 percent of all those ages 16 and older. And 17 percent of the book readers said they had listened to an audio book. This translates into 13 percent of all those ages 16 and older.

"All told, those book readers consumed a mean (average) of 15 books in the previous 12 months and a median (midpoint) of six books -- in other words, half had read fewer than six and half had read more than six," the report said.

What About Libraries?

Getting back to the library impact, Pew's latest study shows there is growing public awareness that the vast majority of public libraries now lend e-books. As already stated, the number who are aware that libraries offer e-book loans increased from 24 percent last year to 31 percent today.

At the same time, Pew reports, there has been a drop in the number of people who do not know whether their local library has an e-book borrowing program. Pew found that 57 percent say they don't know if their library offers e-books. And last year, 63 percent of those ages 16 and above did not know if their library offered e-books for borrowing.

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