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25% of us don’t read books
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, August 22, 2007

According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.
One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.
25% of us never cracked a book and never turned a page.

I'm a voracious reader. But I learned to read books as a kid. Now for me they were the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs which did the trick. They hooked me on reading. And I can't remember a time in my life I didn't have at least one book going (more typically I have 4 or 5 going).

My brother is the same way (we are two years apart), but my youngest brother, never got into books and I'd guess, he's among the 25% today. I'm seeing the same thing happen with my grandsons. The oldest two are constantly reading. The third? Not that interested (at least at the moment, but grandpa hasn't worked on him that hard yet either).

I can't imagine my world without books - even the audio version which I am inclined to listen too occasionally. So while this isn't a huge surprise, I find it a bit sad. The 25% don't know what they're missing. But in this visual age with so many choices other than books, it appears the choice isn't the written word in book form.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday.
Who are the 27 percent of people the AP-Ipsos poll found hadn’t read a single book this year?
Innumeracy or just failure to read carefully?

They even do the math for you — 27% — and you still get it wrong.
Written By: UncleKenny
URL: http://
You got me there, UncleKenny. Pass it off to not paying attention. Thanks for the catch. Edited.
Written By: McQ
I usually have a book or two going but I read a LOT more books before I bought my first home PC in ’91. Back then, it was BBSes. Today, it’s the internets.
Written By: Arcs
URL: http://
Who are the 27 percent of people the AP-Ipsos poll found hadn’t read a single book this year?
What do they do while they’re in the bathroom????
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Arcs brings up an interesting point;

While I tend to go through fifteen or twenty books per year ... books in the literal sense, I go through perhaps double that in their electronic versions, which I tend to keep in my palm pilot. Further, the amount of reading I do of items which cannot be even loosely considered books, has, I think, more than made up for the slight drop off of the number of books read per year, that I did back in the seventies, let’s say.

And I wonder; how much does the changing technology affect these numbers, on the whole?
What do they do while they’re in the bathroom????
Why, they express themselves politically, of course. [/snark]

Written By: Bithead
Arabian Nights, ah......and not the bowderlized versions.

Rudyard Kipling, Clemens.

Blessing to my grandparents, their ’cheap’ book collections and summers in Jacksonville Maine.
What do they do while they’re in the bathroom????
Shark - they’re ’reading’ Playboy, for the articles, of course.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Written By: looker
URL: http://
It is all the fault of you internets guys and your tubes.
Written By: Lance
My wife is upset that the toddler now wants a book when going to the bathroom, making it 3 out of 4 now in our family.

I figure the wife spends her time in the bathroom thinking of chores for me to do.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
For me growing up, it was Orson Scott Card and Louis L’Amour. My wife probably reads three books a week. I honestly can’t imagine how people pass their time without books (ok, I know how they do it, TV, movies, video games, etc., I just can’t imagine it).
Written By: Jinnmabe
URL: http://
Even seven sounds like a very low number. I’ve usually got four checked out from the local libraries at one time. My wife prefers to read in her native language, so she buys imported paperbacks but I know she reads more than seven books a year. As do my kids.

Another inconsistency from this survey is that liberals supposedly read more than conservatives. Yet the NYT Bestseller list has plenty of conservative titles on it. Do you suppose Karl Rove is sending out a recommended mandatory reading list?
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
I read fewer books than I used to (probably one a week), and a lot less than when I took the bus to work downtown (from the ’burbs) when I was doing two or three a week, but I go through a ream of paper for the computer printers about once a month (I hate reading a long article on the screen).

One thing, I noticed that during the bus commute, a lot of people read books ...mostly crap fiction, and for the gals, "romantic" novels (primarily "bodice rippers").

Given that, why is the other 73% so ignorant (according to tests and surveys)?
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
"But in this visual age with so many choices other than books, it appears the choice isn’t the written word in book form."

People watch, what?, 40 hours of TV each week?

Kinda ’splains why Americans are so ignorant on science, economics, history, geography, politics...

BTW, does that mean 27% ofAmericans haven’t read Shrillary’s or Bubba’s lastest books?
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Rudyard Kipling, Clemens.

It was Rafael Sabatini for me. Ah, memories. My mother used to read aloud up to an exciting point and then stop and hand me the book. She would help me with unfamiliar words, but if I wanted to find out what happened, I had to read it myself.

These days, I read an average of 2-3 books a week thanks to 3+ hours a day on public transit. Can’t stand bodice-rippers, though, despite being a gal. Sci-fi and mystery, mostly, with occasional forays into fantasy, horror, and ’modern adventure.’
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Only rarely do I come across a book worth my reading that can be done in a week.

(I’ve had the Mao biography going for nearly a month, now. A great deal of that has been tied up in cross-indexing to stuff like Acheson, Rusk, Karnow, et. al. In strict terms, though, I guess, this is not "reading", but studying.)

Beyond all that: as I travel around in airports and airplanes, I see people reading books all the time. On the other hand, the books that they’re reading mean that they might as well spend their time with Dallas episodes collected on DVD.
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—
Notice it said they don’t read books, not that they don’t read (recreationally) at all - that’s a different survey, with, doubtless, a lower number.

A significant percentage of those people doubtless read magazines or other periodicals; not the same, of course, as a love of books, but not the same as a disregard for the written word, either.

(Heck, we’re all reading on the Intarwubs right now!)
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
(Ah, I see I misread your comment anyway.

Though I’m not sure that not caring for the book form is that terrible a thing.)
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
I know people who are simply incapable of reading (or enjoying) a book, any book. I have talked to a couple of them, and basically, if they open a book to read, it is just forced and they never "get into it". I have certainly started a few books that I just decided were crap and tossed away, but that’s the exception. Generally a book that I deem good enough to pick up, is too good to put down. It seems that people who don’t read books don’t read books because when they were young, they never learned to read books, and we all know that it is harder to learn how to do some things as we get older.

It’s a good thing that the 25% only know what they hear they are missing, and not what they are really missing, every one of them would cry.

I spend almost every summer, reading for pure entertainment, novels mostly, and I try to read a series every summer, start to finish. I am impatient, and don’t like to follow a series over a period of years, or decades in some cases, and there are so many good series that have been completed that I can usually find a good one to pick up. This summer I read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, all 5000 pages of it. It was just cool to read, in a few weeks, a series that was written over nearly 30 years.

The rest of year I generally read non-fiction, biographies, history, and the like. I’ll occasionally peruse some fiction in the off-season, like Ann Coulter (seriously, I read Slander, cover to excrutiating cover, probably just to say I did).

I don’t think that people who can’t read a bound book are going to all-of-a-sudden learn to enjoy e-books, but maybe audio-books. Personally, I can’t stand audio books, but if I’m driving a long way, it’s preferable to talk radio, because, you know... that’s just crap.

Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://

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