23% didn’t read a book in 2013

Nearly a quarter of American adults didn’t read a single book — including e-books — in 2013, Pew Research reports. That’s no worse than the year before. The typical American read five books.

The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978, according to Gallup, observes Jordan Weissmann in The Decline of the American Book Lover.

Without question, the American bookworm is a rarer species than two or three decades ago, when we didn’t enjoy today’s abundance of highly distracting gadgets. In 1978, Gallup found that 42 percent of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year (13 percent said they’d read more than 50!).  Today, Pew finds that just 28 percent hit the 11 mark.

Weissmann finds some hope: “The percentage of young folks reading for pleasure stopped declining. Last year, the NEA found that 52 percent of 18-24 year-olds had read a book outside of work or school, the same as in the pre-Facebook days of 2002.”

Sources: Pew 2014Pew 2012, and Gallup

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