In America, people are reading less. Roughly a quarter of American adults (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, ebooks or audiobooks, according to a Pew Research Center survey. So why are people reading less in 2021? You would figure with the pandemic, people are reading more, but this is not the case.
Several demographic traits are linked with not reading books, according to the survey. For instance, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, an increasingly common way for adults to read e-books.
In addition, adults whose annual household income is less than $30,000 are more likely than those living in households earning $75,000 or more a year to be non-book readers (31% vs. 15%). Hispanic adults (38%) are more likely than Black (25%) or White adults (20%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months.
Although the differences are less pronounced, non-book readers also vary by age and community type. Americans ages 50 and older, for example, are more likely than their younger counterparts to be non-book readers. There is not a statistically significant difference by gender.
The share of Americans who report not reading any books in the past 12 months has fluctuated over the years the Center has studied it. The 23% of adults who currently say they have not read any books in the past year is identical to the share who said this in 2014.
The same demographic traits that characterize non-book readers also often apply to those who have never been to a library. In a 2016 survey, the Center found that Hispanic adults, older adults, those living in households earning less than $30,000 and those who have a high school diploma or did not graduate from high school were among the most likely to report in that survey they had never been to a public library.
via Pew Research
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.