Per the Latest Pew Study, the Most Social Way to Read Is Still in Print

A notable finding from today's big Pew study on Americans' ever-more-digitally-driven reading habits: While people prefer the e-book format for individual reading experiences -- reading while commuting, getting quick access to a book they want to read, etc. -- they prefer print books for more social activities like reading to kids and sharing books with friends.

And they do the preferring with huge, er, margins:

Chart-1 copy.jpeg

On the one hand, those stats are to be expected: Parents, to take the chart's biggest print-digital discrepancy, are likely driven by their own fond memories of being read stories from print books (not to mention by a healthy wariness of parenting-by-screen). And the general sharing of e-books, to take the adjacent comparison, is likely constrained in part by the fact that e-readers aren't anywhere near ubiquitous: You won't share a digital book, obviously, with a friend who doesn't have a Kindle. One clear benefit of the analog book is that it is its own reading device.

Still. Even considering those caveats, the disparity between print and digital here is striking. Despite e-reading platforms' emphasis on the social capabilities of pixellated consumption -- collaborative marginalia, the ability to broadcast what you're reading to your friends on Facebook, the belief that, overall, there's a community in every book -- it seems that, for the vast majority of Americans, sharing is still very much an analog thing. Pew's findings are a nice reminder that books' dynamism comes from the people who share the books, rather than the platforms that help with the sharing. 

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Technology

Just In