How Americans read books in 2016

As the author of five YA novels, I’m curious how many people out there actually read. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 72% of American adults read a book last year. That’s a huge decline from a similar study implemented in 1978 when 9 out of 10 American adults claimed to have read a book.

The biggest readers are women and young adults. According to Pew, women read 14 books last year while men averaged nine books. Eighty percent of young adults (ages 18-29) read a book in 2015 while other age groups read considerably less. My books

Books today come in three formats—print, digital (e-books), and audiobooks. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) revenue from e-book sales from 2008-2012 jumped from $61.3 million to $1.54 billion. In 2015 sales flattened out to 20% of total trade revenue.

When Kindle, Nook, and iPad became popular, some predicted the end to print books. Digital books saves trees and are less expensive. However, publishers got greedy and started charging as much for Kindle downloads as the print editions. So readers went elsewhere.

Drivers, joggers, and workers listen to audiobooks while commuting to work, exercising, or gardening. They download their audiobooks through websites like, iTunes, or Audible.

According to the AAP, audiobooks accounted for the most robust category of adult book sales in 2015 earning $205.6, a 38.9 percent increase over 2014. YA readers and fans of fiction seem to be the greatest listeners of audiobooks.

The attraction to audiobooks is its simplicity. All you need is a smartphone and app and you can listen to a book on the subway, beach, or exercising at the gym.

Americans have more options than ever when searching for a platform to read. Whether it be a traditional paper book, e-book, or the growing popularity of audiobooks, reading is a great way to gain the knowledge of others, boost imagination and creativity, and improve understanding of self and others.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a book!


Michael is the author of four published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura and Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education. His blog features YA authors and books.

One thought on “How Americans read books in 2016

  1. Joe Bock Reply

    I like the idea of having a physical book. I don’t think I will ever be comfortable reading an E book. Even when I have to read something on a website I usually print it out.

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