Pew surveys young Americans on e-reading, but the data is old

People reading books

A new report (PDF) from the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed 16- to 29-year-olds on their reading habits and library usage.

That’s obviously a broad group, including both high schoolers and twenty-somethings, but my main problem with this report is that a lot of the data in it is nearly a year old, “from a nationally representative phone survey of 2,986 people ages 16 and older that was administered from November 16-December 21, 2011.” On the digital front, a lot has changed over the past year, including a larger number of people reading ebooks. Still, some findings:

  • 83 percent of Americans ages 16 to 29 read a book in the past year (again, that year is 2011): 75 percent read a print book, 19 percent read an ebook, 11 percent listened to an audiobook.
  • “High school-aged readers (ages 16-17), along with readers over 65, are less likely than other age groups to have read an e-book in the past year.”
  • This group is more likely to read an ebook on a computer or a cell phone than on an e-reader (see chart). Again, note this data is from 2011 and the survey is also conducted before the holidays, when a lot of people might have received an e-reader as a gift — in fact, another Pew report, released in January 2012, found that tablet and e-reader ownership “nearly doubled” between mid-December 2011 and January 2012.
  • “Many of these young readers do not know they can borrow an e-book from a library, and a majority of them express the wish they could do so on pre-loaded e-readers. Some 10% of the e-book readers in this group have borrowed an e-book from a library and, among those who have not borrowed an e-book, 52% said they were unaware they could do so. Some 58% of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr / Jon Feinstein

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