Fewer Americans are reading books, but don’t blame the millennials

A new survey shows that a smaller percentage of American adults are reading books -- but, please, don't blame the millennials.

A new survey shows that a smaller percentage of American adults are reading books -- but, please, don’t blame the millennials.

(Jamie Grill / Getty Images/Blend Images)

When it comes to reading books, the kids are all right. But the rest of us have some work to do.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center reveals that the percentage of Americans who read books has dropped in the past year, but millennials definitely aren’t the ones to blame. The study found that overall, 72% of American adults have read a book in the past year, while the percentage for millennials, ages 18 to 29, was higher: 80%.

The percentage of overall book readers dropped from the previous year, when 76% of American adults reported having read a book, either all or part of one. The share of respondents who said they’d read a print book in the past year dropped from 69% to 63% over the last year, the survey found.


The decline of readers of print books can’t be blamed on their electronic counterparts, however. The percentage of Americans who reported reading e-books actually dropped slightly, from 28% to 27%.

The same is true for those who prefer the format formerly known as “books on tape.” The survey found that 14% of Americans reported reading — well, listening to — audiobooks last year, and this year the number is 12%.

Education proved to be the best predictor of whether a person is a book reader. Ninety percent of college graduates reported having read a book, compared with 34% of those who didn’t graduate from high school.

There’s also a noticeable gender gap among American book lovers. Women, at 77%, were more likely to have read a book than men, who clocked in at 67%.

Of the 1,907 people surveyed by Pew, 1% refused to answer the question of whether, in the past year, they’d read a book.