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)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In