Photo by the Associated Press
In an age of countless digital distractions, a significant number of Americans, especially those ages 18 to 40, report they are reading more books thanks to their e-readers and tablets.
A national poll of adults, conducted for USA TODAY and Bookish, a website designed to help readers discover and buy books, finds a growing community that's both literary and digital:
• Forty percent - including 46% of those younger than 40 - say they have an e-reader, such as Amazon's Kindle, or a tablet, such as Apple's iPad. That's in contrast to 18% in a 2011 Pew poll.
• Since getting their devices, 35% report reading more books. That includes 41% who own e-readers and 29% who own tablets, which offer not just books, but movies, TV shows and more.
• Adults with a reading device say they read an average of 18 books a year; those without devices say they average 11 books.
Sally Walsh, 38, a Los Angeles secretary, says that since she got a Kindle three years ago, she's reading about 25 books a year, mostly mysteries.
That's about double the number "from when I had to go to a library or bookstore. It's just more convenient," she says.
E-books, which accounted for 20% of all book sales last year, remain the fastest-growing part of the business. Sales increased by 42% last year, but that's a slowdown compared with triple-digit increases the previous three years.
The rise of e-books is good news for authors, publishers and readers, but not for physical bookstores, says Mike Shatzkin, a publishing consultant and organizer of the annual Digital Book World conference.
"More books appear to be sold, combining print and e," he says. "Publishers' margins are improved. Readers are getting more books for less money. Authors get a bit less on e-book sales than print sales, but they sell more (copies)."
Bookstores, he adds, are "largely, but not entirely, cut out of the equation."
The poll includes 1,000 adults surveyed nationwide Aug. 15-18. A supplemental poll Aug. 22-25 resulted in a total of of 819 e-reader and tablet owners. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.