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The state of reading in the USA

The state of reading in the USA

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The Barna Group, the conservative polling and research organization, has released its latest survey of the US. It’s about books and reading. When electronic devices such as the iPad and the Kindle Reader were introduced there was a prediction of the death of the physical book. However, reports of the book’s demise have so far been premature. But it is interesting who it is that is reading the books, Barna wanted to know.

As Barna Group very much prefers, the researchers came up with exact definitions with regard to who it was they were surveying for greater accuracy. They have broken adults into two primary groups; upscale adults and downscale adults. Upscale adults have incomes of $70,000 or greater annually and at least a 4 year college degree. The results of the survey were predictable, whether folks read or not correlated with both income and education levels. Downscale adults have incomes of $20,000 or less annually and no college experience. The results show that close to half of downscale adults don’t read books, compared to barely 10% of upscale adults.

Respondents were also broken into the usual age cohorts; Millenials, Gen-Xers, Boomers and everyone older than Boomers, Elders. And the results for the cohorts differ for such questions as to why folks read books, fiction vs non-fiction preference, even Christians vs non-Christians. The majority of folks appear to prefer to buy their books in stores, as opposed to ordering them online. And folks method of acquisition shows that they would rather borrow books from a lending library or from a friend.

I’m a tail-end Boomer and I buck the trend because I would rather read books in the iBooks, Kindle, Nook or Kobo apps on my iPad. I also read the electronic versions of my favorite magazines on my iPad. I fall asleep most nights reading and many times have been rudely awoken when my iPad smacked me in the nose! But whether fiction or non-fiction everything that I have bought for the last 5+ years has been an ebook. I watch for special discounts and have gotten some deals over the years. When the first Hunger Games movie was about to be released, I decided that I should read the young-adult science fiction trilogy so I would have a better feel for the movies. I got all three as ebooks from Kobo for less than $2 each.

How about you? Follow the link to better understand the relationship between folks in the US and their books. See how you fit in. See how you compare to others in your age cohort. Share with me in the comments any good deals that you know about for ebooks and magazines!

The story and the graph are from The State of Books and Reading in a Digital World at the Barna Group.


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Kay Richardson

Although I hate to correct a fellow boomer who reads a great deal, that should be “tail-end.”

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