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What DO people do with books?

Book sales went up by 8% in 2020. Guess we were cooped up in the house enough to drive us to read, and stir crazy enough to drive MORE of us to read, or as a recent study says, “engage” with books.

An article on OregonLive.com highlighted the 2020 survey done by Portland State University that challenged our assumptions about who uses books and how books are used. Noting that, “Data just about reading ignores a large portion of the things people do with books.”

What DO people do with books?

The Immersive Media & Books Study surveyed 4,314 people who had “engaged with” at least one book during 2020, and provides new insight on what people do with books.

The study defines “engage” as buying, borrowing, reading, giving or subscribing to all or part of a physical, digital or audio book. That's a pretty broad definition, but it certainly covers the territory.

The conclusions of the study were as most would assume and, in some instances, a surprise.

Books are more than entertainment. 
Not surprising, books serve as a resource for self-improvement, projects, gifts, textbooks, or something we read for work.

Media leads us to books.
Not surprising, watching a drama on Netflix based on a book led the audience to engage with that book. Books favored are digital (read Kindle) and audio books. Of course, there is still a place for word of mouth. The study notes that 20% of those in the survey reported that recommendations from others piqued their interest and led to engaging with a book.

Okay, now for the interesting and surprising parts.

These newly defined Book Engagers skew younger and more diverse!
Black and Latinx millennials “proportionally out-consume other age- and race-demographics,” and get this -- men engage at a higher rate than historically assumed.

Gamers love books.
People immersed in video gaming are one of the highest categories of engagers with books. That blows out all previously held biases.

Summary.
There's room in the book world for everyone, everyone's interest, and everyone's choice on how they prefer to consume books: reading on paper, listening, digital reading. 

Well, almost everyone. Seems like there should an option to have the characters leap off the page as holograms. I think I'd like that.

Source: this study was funded by libraries, study groups, independent book publishers, and OverDrive. Read full study here: Immersive Media & Books 2020 Consumer Survey

You may also enjoy, How I got here and why it matters by Carol Doane.

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