E-Book Users Reading More Material Than Their Print Book Counterparts

E-books are easy to carry and make shopping for books an anytime, anywhere kind of experience. Which is why new research that says reading habits are speeding up among those using e-readers makes sense. In fact, they tend to read more often than those who read strictly print material, including books, magazines and news articles.

CNNMoney cites research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which also says that around one-fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year. Expanding the literature field to citizens over 16 who have used an e-reader device to take in any kind of readable content, and that number goes up to 43%.

It’s not just that e-reader users are catching up on online gossip, either. The research says they actually read more books than those who stay devoted to print. E-book users read around 24 books in the past year, whereas paper book fans reported reading around 15 books.

There are happy readers out there, reporting that now that they have e-content to turn to, they spend more time reading than they did before, especially if they own tablets and e-book readers.

Print books still rule the roost in the consumer market, for now. Pew says almost three-fourths of adults read a printed book in 2011 and 11% listened to an audiobook. Print may be holding sway because they’re popular for reading to children.

The downside to all this literary joy? Almost 20% of American adults said that hadn’t read a single book in the last year. Someone, get those people a Kindle/Nook/iPad/other e-reader, stat!

E-Books spur reading among Americans, survey shows [CNNMoney]


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  1. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    I’ve definitely been reading more books since I bought my Kindle. I tend to be a parallel reader, working my way through several books at once. It’s far easier to carry the Kindle around and flip from book to book than to drag the relevant books with me everywhere.

    Not 24 per year, though. Just don’t have enough free time for that much reading, unfortunately :(

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Same. I never thought that reading a paper book was particularly annoying or inconvenient until I got my Kindle and realized how much more comfortable reading can be.

    • energynotsaved says:

      Same here. I like my Kindle because I can immediately download a book that is of interests. If I hear of one on the radio, or read of one in a book review, or see a TED TALK that is exciting, I immediately download it. I am reading more and reading a more diverse selection of books.

      I may have several books in progress–one trash, one non-fiction, and one “think” at the moment–and able to continue with the one most appropriate for the moment.

      I am so delighted that I purchased that reader.

    • Cat says:

      Just wait, after the Zombie apocalypse there will be time. There will time enough at last! Except that there won’t be anyplace to charge your Kindle. Or to buy new Kindle books.

      That’s not fair at all.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Hah! My hand-crank flashlight/cell phone charger can also be used to charge my Kindle! Now all I have to do is put on my very thick reading glasses, and…



    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Agreed. It especially helps with books in a series. I got A Game of Thrones from my public library’s ebook catalog and because it’s such a long book, I put the next book in the series on hold and by the time I was done with the first one, I could be more or less ready to go to the next one. I’m a fast reader and I take public transportation. eBooks and eReaders were made for me.

    • elangomatt says:

      That 24 per year number makes me wonder how many books the most prolific ebook readers are reading per year. I like my ereader as much as the next person, but I make it through maybe a book a month, since I don’t usually just sit and read for any significant period of time.

      I also wonder how they compile the statistics anyway. Does the average ebook reader download 24 books a year or do they actually read 24 books a year?

      • bee8boo8bop8 says:

        Is 24 books really that many? Before I started knitting, I easily made it through about 200 books a year. I knit now, and that makes a lot of time, but I easily read 2 dead tree books/month, in addition to listening to several audiobooks.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          I’m sure I read 100+ books a year when I was single, but these days I get up around 5:30 and by the time the kids (4 and 2) are asleep and household tasks are done, it can be 9 or so. Just not a lot of time to read, especially with my business sucking up a lot of the hours.

          Now, if I could just find a way to build more hours into the day, I’d be good :)

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            I definitely know the feeling. The kids are in bed by 9:00 and I’m usually out cold by 10:00. That 1-hour window is coveted.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        24 a year is very low for me. I read a lot.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I also read about a book a month — Maybe I’m just a slow reader or don’t have much free time.

        I usually read for about an hour each night before I fall asleep. Between work, kids, and house stuff, there really isn’t much free time during the week.

    • ORPat says:

      Current count for me (on kindle) is 72. I actually re-joined the library, so I could check out books online. My books go everywhere with me now

      • bhr says:

        I bought a Kindle and joined the library very recently. It’s been life changing, having a near limitless supply of free ebooks to burn through. I’m on the waiting list for some of the big name authors (GRRM, Follett) but am just reading everything I can get my hands on otherwise.

    • Gehasst says:

      I’ve been spending 30-60 min a day or more reading now compared to a book every few months. I’ve already torn through over 30 books in the past 3-4 months. It’s a good relaxation tool before bed to read a chapter or two, then sleep.

      I’m a faster reader and got through books fairly quickly.

      I made it back to the library, signed back up, and have access to their ebooks, but the selection is very thin due to the books always being “checked out virtually”. (St. Louis County Library).

      You can get most of the classic books for free from a number of sites including Amazon!

  2. George4478 says:

    I doubt I’ll see any volume difference. I keep track of what I read and over the past several years I’ve read 130 books (+/-2) a year.

    Last year, with a Kindle in the mix, I read 131.

  3. ClemsonEE says:

    I’d use it more if e-books weren’t the same price as their printed counterparts…

    Thanks for being greedy assholes publishing companies.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Public library FTW. I’ve purchased about 10 books in the several years I’ve owned my eReader. And they were with a gift card. Even if you live in a small town with a library that doesn’t offer ebook lending, if you have a city nearby, you can probably use that library system. I believe many other cities allow you to pay a yearly fee to access their public library services.

      • George4478 says:

        Between the library and free books, I spent less $10 on ebooks last year.

        In fact, I had held off from buying a Kindle because I used the library so much. I bought my Kindle immediately after they announced Overdrive library support.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Maybe I should feel bad about it, but since I discovered that I can manually move the .azw files for library books back onto my Kindle after the checkout period has expired, I’ve been using the library a lot more. There’s no way I would have had time to read the first Game of Thrones book in the loan time, plus the selection is so sparse that we sometimes wait a month or two or more for the more popular books. If it wasn’t for that trick, I probably wouldn’t be checking out ebooks very often, if at all.

  4. GJaunts says:

    I’m shocked that 80% of American adults read a book last year. Does the TV Guide count?

    I, too, have been reading much more thanks to my e-reader. It goes everywhere with me, and is extremely easy to read while standing on the bus or walking, as I can do it one-handed.

  5. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    I never gave much thought to a Kindle until Mrs Fubish Says gave me her old one when she upgraded. Yikes! I can’t see how I could ever do without it: no big stack of books on the bedsie tabe (actually there still is, but they are a little dusty now). No more toting a bag of books on vacation. The only drawback is the lack of seeing illustrations in books (I guess the Kindle Fire will change that) so I still buy paper books. I do read more books, especially since there are thousands of free e-books available and it’s easy to switch between volumes on a reader.

  6. BelleSade says:

    I too am reading so much more now with my Kindle. Before, I’d read a book every two weeks or so, now, I’m finishing a new book every 2-4 days.

  7. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I would think the biggest reading fans would have all jumped on e-readers, while casual readers don’t care too much about reading to regularly use one.

    I have a Kindle DX for my technical documents, since it’s nice to have them all in one place that won’t burn through the battery and won’t stress my eyeball out, but I definitely don’t casually read any more than I used to.

    • OccasionallyOpinionated says:

      I think this is along the right lines. The e-reader owner population is self selected for those people who know they read enough that owning one might be worth it.

  8. vorpalette says:

    I’m the opposite–I got an e-reader and I don’t like it that much. I read a couple books (Wheel of Time series) on it, but they were so screwed up that I just dug out my fiance’s hard copies and read those. No typos and no missing entire chapters. Then again, my reader was supported by the Borders library, so…

    • vorpalette says:

      I read about 100 books/year (give or take), fwiw.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’ll say that eReaders aren’t created equal. I don’t have any experience with the Borders-supported eReaders, but I think you should give a Nook (any of them) or Kindle (again, any) a chance. The software plays a huge part in the user experience and how text displays.

      • vorpalette says:

        Yeah, we looked at Nooks and Kindles, but they were $$$ back then. We bought one from where my fiance worked for $60 (awesome, color, wi-fi) that ended up up and dying the first day I got it, and then we replaced it with one that didn’t freeze, but didn’t have color or wi-fi (not really a big deal). Maybe we’ll register for one for the wedding.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I got a Nook Color the first month it was out and it’s been awesome. I highly recommend it. It shouldn’t be very expensive at all now.

  9. galligator says:

    I haven’t read a book since i graduated college (2010), but since i got my kindle yesterday i already finished one and am almost done my second. With the amount of free content and wireless delivery, i am sure that this “uncharacteristic” behavior will not be going away anytime soon…

  10. clydesplace says:

    I love my Kindle and am reading more now than I have in years. You just pick it up, press a buttong, and you’re right back where you left off.

    I live thirty miles from the nearest book store so it is convenient, especially on long trips or trips into town where my girlfriend does the driving. I also have Amazon Prime and was able to read The Hunger Games for free the week before the movie came out which I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.

    • TaraMisu says:

      I just signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime…. seems you can’t go wrong with it.

      I travel, a LOT. Having my Kindle is a joy! I flew to China earlier this year and read 4 books, so I think my total read for 2012 will be significantly higher than past years… I’ll have to keep track.

  11. eturowski says:

    Kindles are so much better for reading during a gym workout than paper books. You don’t have to worry about getting them to lie flat or trying to keep sweat off of the pages.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      So much better for commuters, too. I can read on the metro now because I can hold on and read without worrying about pages flapping around.

    • GJaunts says:

      These are the two reasons I’m reading so much more with an e-reader. I read at the gym on the exercise bike and during my commute. It seems like such a small thing, but being able to read with one hand and without having to physically turn the page makes all the difference.

  12. Thyme for an edit button says:

    My Kindle has turned me into a reading fool. I’ve read more in the past three months than I did in the past three years.

  13. Blueskylaw says:

    The study doesn’t show how much content retention the e-reading people have. How much information can you retain if you read an e-book for 5 minutes on a noisy train compared to someone who read a book in a quiet place.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I doubt that is as relevant as you think it might be. Frequent commuters get to be very good at blocking out normal everyday noise like talking, train brakes, etc. I ride the metro to and from work five days a week. People are sleeping, working, and reading on the train all the time. None of them seem to be bothered by any of the common noise.

    • CelticWhisper says:

      To be accurate, though, one would also have to compare reading a book on a train or bus and an E-reader in a quiet place.

  14. madanthony says:

    This doesn’t seem shocking. Why would you buy an e-reader unless you read a lot?

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      +1, Existing readers looking for a venue to read more or better.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I read a lot and I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, yet I haven’t read a single book on it. I don’t like to carry it around and worry about it breaking. I still love the feel of paper in my hands and I write in the margins and underline things I want to remember. I can also take a paper book, toss it in the car (literally) and not worry about it breaking or the batteries running out.

  15. zandar says:

    Interesting news in light of this article- essentially, you don’t retain as much info when the material is read on an e-reader as you do reading a real book. http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/14/do-e-books-impair-memory/

    So, is there any real advantage to reading more if you retain less?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Did you read the article? They asked psychology students to read about economics. This isn’t the same as reading the new John Grisham book. And it also specified that part of the issue was that eReaders weren’t displaying text in the same ways paper books would, like with page numbers. That’s not the case anymore. Then it talks about how smaller screens make a big difference in content retention – most eReader screens are at least the size of a paperback book. It shouldn’t be an issue, and yet the article goes from eReaders to cell phones, which obviously are smaller. It’s not relevant in the context of how we’re discussing eReaders.

  16. CrankyOwl says:

    I’ve always read a lot but since I got a Kindle I seem to be reading more & faster. There’s something about an e-reader that makes reading more…concentrated (?) not sure if that’s the right word, but I can read a 400-500 page book in a few days.

  17. tbax929 says:

    I was predominantly reading on my Android tablet after having gifted my Nook Color to my mom after her Nook was stolen. Anyway, I recently bought the new, cheap Kindle, and I’m reading even more with it. It’s small enough to take everywhere, and the battery life is astonishing.

    I estimate that I read 3-5 books a week now. It helps that I can read while watching my favorite thing on TV (baseball games).

  18. Cyniconvention says:

    My mother has Kindle…I just can’t get into reading on an E-Reader. It’s the pricing that gets me – it’s a little bit cheaper, but it’s still mindblowing to me that that publishers want to charge me 8$ for 200 virtual pages.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      So you don’t take into account that you can use the public library and not have to pay for ebooks? No one is forcing anyone to BUY ebooks.

  19. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’m kind of surprised at the number of 1/5 of Americans have read an e book. That’s 20% of Americans read a book last year let alone an e book.

  20. FedoraFetish says:

    The survey doesn’t mean much unless they asked people how much they read before they started using e-books, otherwise theres no way to control for self-selection bias. I’m pretty suspicious of those high numbers anyway, I think either people are lying or the numbers are being skewed upward by a non-representative sample.

  21. Sad Sam says:

    I can only speak to my own experience. Since I got a Kindle more than a year ago, my book buying has gone way up b/c I find that I’m much more apt to buy e-books b/c it is just so darn easy. I don’t know that I’m reading more as I was an avid reader before the Kindle, but before I would borrow books from the library (and I have yet to figure out how to borrow on my Kindle) or friends or reread what was already in my library.

  22. IGetsAnOpinion says:

    I’m definitely reading more now that I have my Nook because I can easily go to the online library and find a book to read, and have it just about immediately. Before I would have to find the time to drive to the library. Now I download a book from the library, and put a hold on the next book in the series, and by the time I’m done the 1st, it’s ready for me. I read 3-4 books a month now, where I would read 1-2 before Nook.

    Another benefit of an e-reader is being able to make the text larger. When I’m on the treadmill, I make the text larger than if I’m reading it normal so I can put it on the treadmill base instead of having to hold it closer to me to see it.

  23. Sad Sam says:

    I generally read a book a week, this past week I read all three of the hunger games. I don’t know that my volume has gone up since I got the Kindle, just that I’m reading more new releases. During my book club meetings, 4 of us have kindles and we will talk about what we are reading and either download or lend to others if its a book we can lend.

    I have to say though the pricing of e-books annoys me in general. If I’m paying full price for a book I should be able to share it with friends.

  24. Kuri says:

    So tempted to get myself an Ereader.

  25. dwtomek says:

    I don’t remember the last time I bought a book before getting access to kindle. In stark contrast, I have purchased so many books in the years since getting access that I would have to look through my archive to see how many I have purchased. Now that I can read books on my phone (same font size as standard books, just broken into more pages), I now use previously unoccupied time to read. For example, waiting for a takeout order at a restaurant, waiting for an event to start. Basically anytime I used to spend simply waiting, I now use to also read. It’s been fantastic for me.

  26. momtimestwo says:

    I just wish my Kindle had that “new book smell” to it.

  27. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I got the Kindle Touch for Christmas and I really do like it. I find it to be much more convenient/comfortable to read with than paper books ever have been. I don’t have to worry about bookmarks or pages with type that is too small or misprinted or pages that won’t lay flat/open up the way I’d like. The weight is good, and it doesn’t take up too much room in a bag, especially if I want a variety of reading choices. I also don’t have to reposition myself every time I want to turn a page. Flicking my thumb over one corner of the screen to change pages is just so easy.

    I LOVE the Amazon Prime lending library. I’ve only actually purchased one book for it so far, all of the other ones I’ve read have been free. I haven’t looked to see if my regular library offers ebooks but I’m betting they do.

  28. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I have always been a voracious reader, but I read even more with my Kindle. I have over 300 books on it, and usually have 4-5 books “on the go” at once, and I can pick/chose what I read depending on my mood. Its also handy to have in my purse as opposed to how freaking huge some paperbacks are (like Stieg Larsson’s books). In addition there are thousands of public domain books available for free via GoodReads and Project Gutenberg that have allowed me to find many classic books that I’ve wanted to read but have never been able to find physical copies of.

  29. ReaperRob says:

    24 per year seems low, I know I average about 50.

  30. Geekybiker says:

    Wow. Those numbers seem really really high to me. 24 books average for e-readers? 15 for dead-tree variety. I know very few people who keep up with the average, let alone surpass it. I wonder what constitutes a ‘book’?

  31. erratapage says:

    I would buy 3-5 books a month before my Kindle. Now, I buy 6-8 books a month. I also read a fair number of kindle library books, and I have a subscription to lendle.me. There are very few books I’m willing to pay hardcover prices for, now that I know just how many books I can buy for $2.99 or less, so I’m also way more price sensitive than I used to be.

  32. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I was not willing to spend the money for a Kindle before, but I tried the app on my computer and now I kinda want one. I have several books on the computer now but I hate reading on the screen. Of course, I want the Fire, and not having a job, I don’t have the money for it.

    I signed up for a giveaway on a local TV station where they’re alternating the iPad 2 and the Fire but with my luck, if I win anything it’ll be the stupid iPad. Of course, I can always sell it and put the money toward the Kindle. :)

    Wouldn’t bother me any to publish an e-book either.