Some 23% of American adults said they have not read a book in whole or in part during the previous year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted January 25 to February 8 2021, found.
According to the PRC survey, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor's or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, an increasingly common way for adults to read e-books.
In addition, "adults whose annual household income is less than $30,000 are more likely than those living in households earning $75,000 or more a year to be non-book readers (31% vs. 15%). Hispanic adults (38%) are more likely than Black (25%) or white adults (20%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months," the PRC wrote. The survey included Asian Americans but did not have sufficient sample size to do statistical analysis of this group.
Non-book readers also vary by age and community type. Americans 50 and older, for example, are more likely than younger counterparts to be non-book readers. There is not a statistically significant difference by gender.
The share of Americans who report not reading any books in the past 12 months has fluctuated over the years the PRC has studied it. The current number (23%) is identical to the share who said this in 2014, the Center noted, adding: "The same demographic traits that characterize non-book readers also often apply to those who have never been to a library. In a 2016 survey, the Center found that Hispanic adults, older adults, those living in households earning less than $30,000, and those who have a high school diploma or did not graduate from high school were among the most likely to report in that survey they had never been to a public library."