Digital reading rises, while books fade

Share of adult Americans reading an e-book jumps from 16 to 23 percent in a year, Pew survey finds, while traditional book reading falls from 72 to 67 percent.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File
The Nook tablet is seen during a demonstration at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York in this 2011 file photo. The share of US adults reading a digital book jumped in 2012 while the share of those reading a traditional book fell, accoridng to a new survey.

The tastes of the reading public are turning digital.

A Pew Internet Research Center survey released Thursday found that the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year. Readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent. Overall, those reading books of any kind dropped from 78 percent to 75 percent, a shift Pew called statistically insignificant.

Those owning an e-book device or tablet jumped from 18 percent to 33 percent, with much of that increase coming from last year's holiday season, when millions received Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers as gifts.

Awareness that libraries offer digital texts grew from 24 percent to 31 percent.

The telephone survey of 2,252 people aged 16 and older was conducted from Oct. 15 to Nov. 10. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

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