While ebooks are on the rise, print books are in decline. Pew Internet surveyed 2,552 American adults last October and November about their reading choices and habits. Whilst the amount of people who read remains the same as last year (three quarters of the population), readers are changing the way they choose to read.
The number of people who read an e-book over the past year soared from 16% in late 2011 to 23%. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who purported to have read a printed book dropped from 72% to 67%.
The survey’s most drastic result illustrated the infiltration of ereading devices and tablets into households. 33% of participants owned either a tablet computer or an ebook reading device – a sharp increase from 18% in late 2011. The percentage of people who own a ebook reading device has spiked from 10% to 19%, while computer tablets have fared even better, jumping from 10% to 25%.
The survey also focused on elending and public libraries. The results demonstrate a growing awareness that public libraries lend ebooks. However, the numbers are still low - over half the participants were unaware whether their local library has an ebook lending program.
Whether these positive results for ebooks will in turn cause a spike in reading overall has yet to be seen. Although the number of overall readers in fact decreased from 2011, the difference was so small that the report deems it a statically insignificant drop. The question remains whether ebooks will attract those who would not have otherwise read a print book, not simply convert established readers from print to digital.
The report is a project of the Pew Research Center’s American Life Project. Along with the figures above, it provides detailed breakdowns of both ebook readers and readers in general along multiple demographic lines. It is available to read here: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/files/legacy-pdf/PIP_Reading%20and%20ebooks_12.27.pdf