Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Poll of Reading Habits

Stephen sent an email, directing me to the new Associated Press-Ipsos poll on reading in America released yesterday. Thanks!

The poll was conducted from August 6 to 8th via telephone interviews with a random sampling of 1,003 Americans from every state except Hawaii and Alaska. According to Forbes, the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly and went to only listed and unlisted home landlines.

The results were weighted (adjusted) to confirm that responses reflected the population's makeup, using factors such as race, sex, age and region. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

The pollsters estimate a margin of sampling error of three percent plus or minus, meaning only a three percent variance from the entire country's makeup.

The results?

Both good and bad. One in four adults read NO books in the last year. The typical respondent claimed to have read four books in the last year. Forbes reports: "half read more and half read fewer [than four]. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven."

The Associated Press reported on previous, similar polls: In 1999, a Gallop poll reported people had claimed to have started at least ten books in the past year. In 2005, people reported starting at least five. The question asked was slightly different from that asked in this newest poll; however, it seems in line with the results of this poll.

The Associated Press (AP) also reported on a study by the National Endowment for the Arts titled "Reading at Risk." The study was done in 2004, and I blogged about it a year ago here.

In discussing this latest poll, the AP said: "Among those who said they had read books, the median figure--with half reading more, half fewer--was nine books for women and five for men. The figures also indicated that those with college degrees read the most, and people aged 50 and up read more than those who are younger."

Forbes says:

Who are the 27 percent of people the AP-Ipsos poll found hadn't read a single book this year? Nearly a third of men and a quarter of women fit that category. They tend to be older, less educated, lower income, minorities, from rural areas and less religious.

I find it interesting that the people who read the most and the people who read the least are both older. There's a bell curve in there somewhere [grin].


David Roth said...

Pshaw. I read on average over 100 books a year. No one asked me [grin]

Mitz said...

MJ Rose also blogged about this report.

Sometimes, if you include the audiobook I listen to in the car, I read 3-4 books a week.

I cannot understand people who don't read. Reading to me is like breathing - like writing - it's something I cannot NOT do.

I've been like this all my life and bless my mother for walking me and my sister up the street to our small public library before we even went to school. I still remember the smell of those books - the ones with the rough covers and the lovely brightly colored pictures. I can even tell you where The Witch of Blackbird Pond was shelved. Before reading Rebecca, that was my favorite book - and is still one in the long list of favorites.

I feel sorry for people who don't have the thrill of finding a new writer or a new series or new characters in a new story. It's so much more intimate than any other media - and so immediate.

Maya Reynolds said...

David: You're intimidating me.

I probably read 40-45 books a year. But next to you, I'm a slacker.

Maya Reynolds said...

Mitzi: Among my worries as a child was that I'd go blind and never be able to read a book again. That thought terrified me.