55% of All Americans Read, But Aged 65+ Read More

In News by Dennis Abrams

NEA_LogoColorBy Dennis Abrams

There’s a new study from The National Endowment for the Arts — “How a Nation Engages With Art” (PDF) — and while the survey looks at America’s participation in the arts in general, its findings about books and reading in America is particularly interesting.

Some of the study’s findings, as reported by The Daily Beast:

The percentage of Americans who have read a book of any kind in 2012 (not for school or work) is 54.5%, a number that has held consistently since 2002.

The percentage of adults who have read at least one work of literature in 2012 — a novel, short story, play or book of poetry — was 46.9%. That number has been seeing a steady decline, from 56.4% in 1982 to just over 50% in 2002.

The percentage of adult men who read literature fell five points since 2008, down to 36.9%, as opposed to 56.3% of women.

The percentage of Americans willing to admit to reading a book of poetry fell to 6.7%, down a staggering 45% from numbers in 2002, a larger drop than any other genre: the percentage of Americans reading novels has held steady; the percentage who read plays has dropped by 19%.

The percentage of young adults (ages 18-24) reading has risen to 51.8%.

The percentage of adults (ages 45-54) is 53.2%. As The Daily Beast points out, the gap between young adult and adult readers is shrinking: young adults are reading more, adults are reading less.

The percentage of older Americans (65-74) who read is 61.1%. Not only is it the most literate demographic, it is the only group where more than half read at least one work of literature in 2012.

The percentage of Americans who are in a book club or reading group is 3.6%.

For additional highlights, click here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.