Why People Read Books? Statistics on Consumer Behavior of Readers

Why People Read Books? Statistics on Consumer Behavior of Readers

This report will focus on the consumer behavior of book buyers and avid readers in the United States. We will cover the process of book discovery, factors readers consider when choosing the next book, as well as why people like to read and engage with books across all formats.

Why do people like to read books?

Reading has multiple benefits for people’s overall well-being, development, and knowledge generation. However, the single most important reason why adult readers (over 18 years of age) decide to engage with books is pure entertainment and leisure:

  • 50.10% of readers (people who engage with at least one book per year) say that the most important reason why they engage with books is for entertainment and leisure. Also, 82.90% of readers stated this as one of the reasons why they read books.
  • For 25.00% of readers, self-improvement is the most important reason why they read books, and 41.40% of them say this is one of the reasons why they engage with reading.
  • 12.80% of people who engage with books do so for the purpose of buying gifts for their friends, family, and colleagues, and 21.20% of people say this is one of the reasons why they engage with books.
  • 11.10% of readers engage with this activity for the sake of education and work, while 18.40% of them state work and school as one of the factors of engaging with books.
Why people buy booksAll reasonsMain reason
Work or school18.40%11.10%

Factors readers consider when buying books

  • The most important factor for readers when choosing their next book is the category/genre of the book – 39.80% of readers consider it to be the most important factor, and over 66.50% of readers consider it to be one of the factors.
  • 23.20% of readers primarily choose the book based on its author, while 61.50% of them consider the book’s author as one of the factors when picking the next read.
  • 15.00% of readers lean on book reviews as the most important factor for the next read, with 43.00% of them having this as one of the factors they consider.
  • Price is the most important factor for 9.20% of readers when it comes to choosing the next book, and 44.00% consider price, among other things.
  • It’s interesting that 3.90% of readers think that the book’s front cover is the most important thing for them to choose the next book, while 23.50% of readers consider the front cover design among other things.
Factors when buying booksThe most important factorAll factors readers consider
Front cover3.90%23.50%
Back cover2.60%13.80%
Publication date0.80%2.30%

There are differences among genders when it comes to factors considered when choosing the next book to read. Men find a book’s genre/category and price more important in the process, while women value their favorite authors and publishers more than men:

Factors when buying booksMenWomen
Front cover4.00%3.00%
Back cover3.00%2.00%
Publication date0.80%1.20%

How do readers discover books?

When it comes to sources of book discoveries, the vast majority of readers rely on recommendations as the most important ally to find the next read – mostly recommendations from friends and family. Aside from recommendations, some readers follow the new releases of their favorite authors and browse social media and book-related websites:

  • Over 47.45% of readers discover books through recommendations, whether it’s from friends, family, librarians, booksellers, influencers, authors, or publishers.
  • Among this group, readers mostly rely on recommendations from friends (20.80% of all readers) and family (12.10%) as the most important source of book discovery.
  • Aside from recommendations, following works of their favorite authors is the primary source of book discovery for 15.30% of readers.
  • 7.35% of readers discover their next read through social media, and 6.15% use book-related websites as the most important source of discovery.
  • Among other sources, 5.85% of readers look through the best-sellers list as the primary place for finding the next read.
How people discover booksThe most important sourceAdvertising
Favorite author15.30%38.40%
Social media7.35%27.45%
Book-related websites6.15%18.60%
Best-sellers list5.85%24.45%
Amazon’s algoritm3.15%12.90%
Print newspapers/magazines2.40%13.20%
Amazon’s algorithm2.10%11.85%
Book award winners1.50%14.85%
Online newspapers/magazines1.35%7.80%
Favorite media tie-ins1.05%7.35%
Celebrity book club picks0.75%6.45%
Favorite publishers0.60%7.50%

Here is the breakdown of sources of recommendations readers thrust the most when considering the next book to read:

Recommendation typeThe most important source of book discovery

Multitasking while engaging with books

Naturally, readers are less likely to multitask when reading print books compared to electronic formats. However, over one-third of readers engage in multitasking with print books as well:

  • 37.10% of readers say that they engage in multitasking while reading print books.
  • 60.70% of readers multitask while reading ebooks, and over 70.00% of readers perform other activities while listening to audiobooks.
  • Across different generations, the level of multitasking across formats is mixed – Millennials engage in multitasking in over 50% of cases even with print books, while Boomers do so only in 23.70% of cases.
  • GenX readers perform other activities while reading ebooks in 68.70% of cases, the most among all generations.
  • On the other hand, GenX readers have the smallest share of multitasking with audiobooks – only 58.00% of them.
Multitasking while readingMillennialsMillennialsGenXBoomers

Activities readers engage with

  • 39.8% of avid readers post book reviews and/or recommendations on social media and book-related websites.
  • Men are more active when it comes to posting reviews and recommendations, as 44% of men engage in these activities, compared to 36% of women.
  • 13.30% of avid book readers visit in-person author events, such as book promotions, panels, and discussions.
  • An additional 5% participate in virtual author events, such as video and conference calls.
  • 17.40% of avid readers regularly visit and browse through bookstore shelves, while 30.70% of them browse through online bookstores.
  • 12.70% of readers visit libraries to browse for books.
ActivityShare of avid readers engaging in activity
Posting book reviews39.80%
In-person author events13.30%
Virtual author events5.00%
Browse bookstore shelves17.40%
Browse online bookstores30.70%
Browse library shelves12.70%