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New Freckle Survey Shows Where Americans Get Their Books

The Freckle Report has released its half-year check-in survey on the book sourcing habits of adults in the United States with support from EveryLibrary Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports public libraries.

The Freckle Report is a survey and review of consumer reading habits that gets updated regularly, and for its April 2022 survey, it asked 667 adults in the United States the question “Where did you get that book?”

The answers provide insight into the constantly shifting landscape of print, ebooks, and audiobooks usage in the U.S. The survey also makes it clear how instrumental libraries are in providing access to books.

“This most recent survey shows that libraries help put books in the hands of people,” John Chrastka, Executive Director of EveryLibrary Institute, remarked. “There’s an ongoing misconception that libraries are becoming obsolete, but the survey shows that books and reading continue to be an important part of American culture. Moreover, libraries play a critical role in communities and the culture of reading.”

Mr. Chrastka continued, saying “Libraries continue to lift people up, supplying them with reading material, research material and other resources. And we should continue to support libraries in our communities.”

There’s an ongoing misconception that libraries are becoming obsolete, but this survey shows that books and reading continue to be an important part of American culture.

Some Key Survey Findings

  • Nearly 90% of adults report using or reading a book in the prior 12 months.
  • 57% of books are read in print and 43% are in ebook or audiobook formats. This is a significant shift from pre-COVID levels where 76% of books were utilized in print.
  • Audiobooks as a percentage of digital interactions have increased from only 4% in April 2019 to 16% in April 2022.
  • Library utilization continues to be strong with 18% of readers sourcing their print and digital from the library.
  • Readers have shifted dramatically to online retailers as their primary source for reading and books (43%) with negative changes to people getting books from bricks-and-mortar retail (15%) and friends and family (15%).
  • Fully 55% of people who self-report using a library in the last 12 months used it to read or borrow books. A further 17% reported using the library to research or study.

A recording of a conversation between John Chrastka and Tim Coates, principal researcher for the Freckle Project, is available for review on the EveryLibrary site, as are slides for the April 2022 survey.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.

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