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

More

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. 

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

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

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In