Modern reading

How do you read books? Are you a traditional print book reader? Are you addicted to an e-reader? Perhaps you use your smart phone or your tablet. Or maybe you are one of those people who "read" by listening to audio books.

Modern readers certainly have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choices of how to enjoy their habit, but in spite of the various formats that modern technology makes available to them, the Pew Research Center found that among U.S. adults who have read books in the previous twelve months, most have chosen to read print books.

Moreover, they found that among American readers, only 6% are digital-only book consumers.

What I find really appalling about this chart is that 26% of Americans have not read a book in the past twelve months. You would think that most people would have read at least one book, even by accident, but, if we are to believe this survey, more than one-quarter of adults in this country have not cracked a book of any kind in the last twelve months. Perhaps that explains a lot.

Personally, I fall in that light blue slice of the pie - people who read both print and digital books, but probably 90% or more of the books that I read now are read on my Kindle. I admit I am addicted.

There is a reason that I rely mostly on the Kindle. It has to do with fonts. As my eyes age along with the rest of me, I find that the fonts in many print books are just too challenging to read. For example, I recently decided to read Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, a book that had languished on my shelf for twelve long years. At the time that I bought it, just after its publication, the font seemed perfectly readable to me, but when I took it off the shelf last week, I found that the font had unaccountably shrunk over the years. Now, it is tiny. I couldn't face squinting to read 800+ pages of that, so I requested the book on my Kindle and adjusted the font to a size that was more comfortable for me.

That may be the thing that I like best about the Kindle - being able to adjust the size of the font and the background lighting on the page. There are things that I don't like. For one thing, I frequently like to turn back and reread a passage to remind myself of what was in it, and that is difficult with the Kindle. And I've never really mastered the note-taking application. But those are really my only complaints.

I have an iPhone and an iPad, but I never read books on them except in case of dire emergency. Actually, I never read on the iPhone, period. Again, just too small. Only very occasionally will I use the iPad as an e-reader. And I seldom listen to audio books, except on long road trips. I prefer the reading experience to the listening experience.

It seems that I am among the majority of college graduates who read books both in print and in digital formats.

And then, of course, there's the question of why we read. Pew has got your stats right here!

It seems that, these days, we are most interested in researching specific topics of interest and in keeping up with current events. I do some of that, but count me mostly in the "reading for pleasure" column. I do research and keeping up with current events primarily by visiting trusted sites online, but when it comes to settling down with a book - in print, audio, or e-book - I'm looking for pleasure. I'm hedonistic like that.


  1. It seems I'm hedonistic too! I'm addicted to the Kindle app in my tablet. I have a big collection of bin print, but since Amazon drops prices fairly often on the books I own, the ones I want, and those I want at irresistible prices, then I think I will eventually make the transition to e-reader only.

    1. I've usually preferred to read nonfiction in print, but lately I'm finding that the Kindle is tolerable for that as well.

  2. I read both. I don't listen. I hate being read to. As soon as I learned to read, I read to myself and never looked back. I have 4 different e-reader apps on my iPad. Best thing about e-reading is I can read in bed even after husband wants to go to sleep. (I also hate reading with a book light.) But I still like reading an actual book best because I can look back and know what page I am on, though my old mass market paperbacks are a problem with their tiny print. I use my local library as much as possible because my bookshelves are full, and even they have e-readers. But I do forget what I have on my e-readers. I like looking at my huge TBR real life books and sometimes just picking one up on a whim. Wow, you really got me going.

    1. You sound like you fit the profile of the majority of people in Pew's research.


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