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Rumors of the Demise of Books Greatly Exaggerated

10 January 2017

From Gallup:

Despite the abundance of digital diversions vying for their time and attention, most Americans are still reading books. In fact, they are consuming books at nearly the same rate that they were when Gallup last asked this question in 2002 — before smartphones, Facebook or Twitter became ubiquitous. More than one in three (35%) appear to be heavy readers, reading 11 or more books in the past year, while close to half (48%) read between one and 10 and just 16% read none.

. . . .

Although the survey did not track the types of books that Americans read by age group, book reading in general is fairly similar by age group among U.S. adults. It is a bit more prevalent among the oldest and youngest age groups than among those in the middle years. Roughly nine in 10 adults aged 18 to 29 (91%) report reading at least one book in the past year — possibly related to the required reading among college students within this age group. The percentage among those aged 65 and older is 85%. Nearly four in 10 respondents in both age groups say they read more than 10 books.

The most meaningful differences in reading behavior since 2002 are evident among Americans aged 65 and older. Collectively, they are reading more books than the same age group did in 2002.

Link to the rest at Gallup and thanks to Dave for the tip.

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7 Comments to “Rumors of the Demise of Books Greatly Exaggerated”

  1. “Possibly related to the required reading among college students within this age group.”

    Duh.

    Useless numbers without distinguishing the types of books or why they’re read. Are they counting comic books? Graphic novels? Gaming books and guides? User manuals or guides? Technical reference books?

    They offer up meaningless numbers “answering” questions few care about and ignore the meaningful questions of who reads what and why.

    • They offer up meaningless numbers “answering” questions few care about and ignore the meaningful questions of who reads what and why.

      Felix, First I wrote a comment praising Gallup. Then I read the article again and saw a datum I missed on first reading, so I deleted my comment.

      Gallup is lying to me.

      How is Gallup lying to me?

      Click through and scroll down to the chart. Not the table with the numbers toted up. The chart with the three squiggly lines.

      Don’t the three lines look remarkably flat from 2002 to 2016? You know why that is? That is because Gallup DID NOT COLLECT DATA FROM 2003 TO 2015. But the chart gives the impression that they did.

      Flat lines imply stability in the group. The middle line (grey) is composed of those polled who read eleven or more books in the year; that is, power readers. Gallup’s chart — if it were true — shows remarkable stability in that group. But when the truth is known — there is a gap from 2003 to 2015 — the chart speaks no truth about that group and misleads. Were the chart honest, there would be no line from 2002 to 2016.

      Folks, Gallup is lying to you.

      I used to respect Gallup. I no longer do.

  2. To put it another way, SOMEBODY is reading all of those ebooks that are being sold. Their survey mostly missed those people.

    • Ah, but were they even asking the difference between e and p books in their survey?

      Little tricks like:

      Q1: How many books did you read last year?
      Q2: Did you pick up/look at/read a physical book last year?

      Skip the ebooks and how many of each were actually read.

      And with Nielsen BookScan counting adult coloring books, calendars & physical-CD audio books all as ‘books’, it’s easy to get the numbers they want — the numbers just don’t mean anything in the real world.

  3. “Rumors of the Resurrection of Books Greatly Exaggerated”

    Fixed that title for ya. 😉

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