Even with Facebook, Netflix and other digital distractions increasingly vying for time, Americans' appetite for reading books — the ones you actually hold in your hands — has not slowed in recent years, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
Sixty-five percent of adults in the United States said they had read a printed book in the past year, the same percentage that said so in 2012. When you add in e-books and audiobooks, the number that said they had read a book in printed or electronic format in the past 12 months rose to 73 percent, compared with 74 percent in 2012.
Twenty-eight percent said they had opted for an e-book in the past year, while 14 percent said they had listened to an audiobook.
Lee Rainie, the director of internet, science and technology research for Pew Research, said the study demonstrated the staying power of physical books.
"I think if you looked back a decade ago, certainly five or six years ago when e-books were taking off, there were folks who thought the days of the printed book were numbered, and it's just not so in our data," he said.
The 28 percent who said they had read an e-book in the past year has remained relatively steady over the past two years, but the way they are consuming e-books is changing.
The Pew study, based on a telephone survey of 1,520 adults in the country from March 7 to April 4, reports that people are indeed using tablets and smartphones to read books. Thirteen percent of adults in the United States said that they used their cellphones for reading over the past year, up from 5 percent in 2011. Tablets are a similar story: 15 percent said that they had used one for books this year, up from 4 percent in 2011.
While 6 percent said they read books only in digital format, 38 percent said they read books exclusively in print. But 28 percent are reading a combination of digital and printed books, suggesting that voracious readers are happy to take their text however they can get it.
"They want books to be available wherever they are," Rainie said. "They'll read an e-book on a crowded bus, curl up with a printed book when they feel like that and go to bed with a tablet."