Fewer printed books may be seen in the hands of the general citizenry today. With digital communication and social networking platforms fighting to capture the attention of people, many have wondered if the days of the printed paper books, the ones that people actually hold in their hands, are severely numbered.
The printing industry once dominated the world of knowledge. For thousands of years, printed books were one of the few, and in some cases, the only way, the written or spoken word could be sent across oceans. However, with the advent of digital communication and entertainment, the printing industry, and more specifically the hard-copies of books, has undeniably taken a substantial beating. Despite the apparent decline in the consumption of content through physical books, a new research indicates printed books aren’t dying, at least for the foreseeable future.
According to a recently conducted study by the Pew Research Center, the consumption of content through physical books hasn’t steadily slowed down in recent years. The research, however, is restricted to America. But it indicates that almost two-thirds of the adult American population have read a printed book in the last year. Incidentally, this is the same percentage as in 2012. In other words, adults in the United States aren’t reading fewer books as the years go by. The research claims an average American reads at least one book per month.
Printed books, still the most popular reading interface https://t.co/mXXSlQUqnA
— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) September 2, 2016
Statistically speaking 65 percent of adults in the United States said they read at least one printed book in the past year. If one adds ebooks and audiobooks, the number jumps to 73 percent. In other words, nearly three-fourths of all American adults claim they have read a book, either in printed or electronic format in the past year.
Nearly a third of Americans shared they had chosen to read a book on their mobile devices like Kindle, iPad, and other tablets, whereas 14 percent of adults simply chose to listen to the audio version of books, commonly referred to as audiobooks. These aural versions of books have been slowly gaining in popularity in the last few years, but their overall consumption isn’t anything to write home about.
The overall consumption of books may have slightly dipped by a percentage point as compared to 2012, but that doesn’t mean physical books will start disappearing along with bookstores anytime soon, shared Lee Rainie, the director of internet, science and technology research for Pew Research,
“I think if you looked back a decade ago, certainly five or six years ago when ebooks 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.”
The study showed that the 28 percent of American adults who read ebooks haven’t changed their behavior, but the way they accessed the ebooks has undergone some fundamental changes. The noticeable changes which might have been apparent in the sale of large-screen mobile devices as well.
Physical books have staying power; perhaps rumours of their death have been greatly exaggerated https://t.co/EMavnG9nJW
— Kevin Wilson (@kevinsubjectlib) September 2, 2016
The study relied on an annual survey conducted through telephonic conversations between March 7 and April 4. Though the survey recorded and analyzed the responses from just 1,520 adults, it revealed some fascinating insights about the consumption of books and the changing reliance on hardware.
More Americans are now using their cell phones and tablets to read an electronic version of books. While 13 percent of Americans (up from five percent in 2011) said they used their smartphones, 15 percent of adults (up from 4 percent in 2011) are now using their large-screened tablets.
Nearly 40 percent of Americans surveyed claim they have steadfastly stayed loyal to printed books, while 28 percent prefer a combination of ebooks, audiobooks, and hard copies. The findings suggest that people still love books, noted Rainie. While they may opt for an audiobook or ebook during their commute, many still prefer the warmth and feel offered by printed copies, he concluded.
[Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images]