Three out of Four U.S. Consumers Read Books or Listened to Audiobooks in the Past Six Months, the NPD Group Says

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A recent NPD survey shows that reading is here to stay, but the way we are doing it is changing

“The preference for print books over e-books is especially true for kids’ books. Parents value the lap time print books offer, which is a wonderful way for parents to bond with their children and foster a love of reading early on.”

According to global information company The NPD Group, nearly 3 out of 4 consumers in the U.S. reported reading a book or listening to an audiobook in the past six months. Even so, books are facing stiff competition for consumer attention from other entertainment activities. While there is plenty of reading going on, survey respondents reported reading roughly 9 percent less this year than they did last year overall, with the steepest drop off reported for readers between the ages of 45 and 54.

Print books are preferred over any other reading format, according to the 2019 “Evolution of Entertainment Study” from NPD. In fact, more than half of respondents reported reading a print book in the past six months, while only one-quarter read an electronic book (e-book). This is consistent with NPD point-of-sale tracking, where the print book market makes up 81 percent of the overall market, up from 72 percent in 2013.

“The preference for print books over e-books is especially true for kids’ books,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst, NPD Bookscan. “Parents value the lap time print books offer, which is a wonderful way for parents to bond with their children and foster a love of reading early on. They also view print books as an offset to screen time, in our increasingly connected world.”

Audiobooks are part of a growing listening movement in the U.S., evidenced by the increase in popularity of podcasts and digital music. NPD survey respondents who read books also reported spending 10 percent more time this year than they did last year listening to other forms of audio, including podcasts and music. When asked why they are focused on listening, respondents cited the ability to multi-task as a key factor.

Audiobook listeners are also some of the most omnivorous consumers, from a demographic and behavioral point of view. In fact, adults between the ages of 18 and 44, a key consumer demographic for marketers, are listening to audiobooks the most. “Audiobook listeners are also most likely to engage with all forms of book activity, making them valuable consumers when it comes to content and purchasing power,” McLean said. “They practice equal-opportunity literacy, not only listening to audiobooks, but also reading print books, magazines, and graphic novels.”

About NPD BookScan
NPD BookScan is the gold standard in point-of-sale tracking for the publishing market, covering approximately 85 percent of all the print books sold in the U.S. through direct reporting from all major retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, independent bookstores, and many others. Each sale of the more than 16 million units tracked on a weekly basis includes geographic information making it possible to identify key markets, map regional sales trends, and index the likelihood of purchase in 200 major metro areas. NPD BookScan is also the exclusive provider of ALR data for Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, and Sam’s Club to U.S. publishers.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD is the leading global provider of market information and business solutions covering brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, and emerging channels in more than 20 industries. We combine our unique data assets with analytic solutions to help our clients measure performance, predict trends, and improve results, advising them to help drive successful growth. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, consumer electronics, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, travel retail, games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit and Follow us on Twitter: @npd_entertain

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