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

About Joanne


  1. My students are constantly astonished when they find out how much I read, and that I really enjoy reading.

    Sometimes I despair at the lack of imagination, and the disdain for reading my students show.

    But then days like Friday come along. One of my Junior girls was talking about a book she had just read. She stayed up all night, and couldn’t put it down until she finished it. I laughed and confessed to doing the same thing, and that I still did. Not only was it a bonding moment for us, but it reassured me that there are still readers out there.