Americans Still Prefer Traditional Books, Despite Growth in E-Books

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“Back in my day, we read books printed on paper!”

While this may be the knowledge the youngest among us may one day tell our great-grandchildren, the printed book has yet to go the way of the dodo bird. Many readers across multiple generations continue to read traditional books, mass-market, paperback, and hardcover. The catch is that we are also reading e-books too, creating a literary environment of ink and pixels coexisting in a hybrid literary culture.

The March 2014 report from Harris Interactive shows that the majority of Americans still prefer a printed book in hand over an e-book when possible. About 46 percent overall of Americans read only hard copy books. Not surprisingly, those most likely to read only paper books are the oldest group.

The majority of the sample polled also reads at least one e-book a year, about 54 percent of Americans overall. Those most likely to have read one of this type of book were the youngest adults, Millennials also known as Generation Y. About 66 percent of them read an e-book in the past year, and about 25 percent of Gen X is likely to have read more e-books than traditional books in the year, the highest of any group. This suggests that the reading landscape is more complicated than simply all print or all e-books.

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