Reading Habits of Americans in 2017 [Infographic]

reading habits of Americans

The end of the year brings the inevitable lists of “top everythings” (guilty!) and retrospectives galore. This infographic, produced by the good folks at Global English Editing, goes a little deeper and takes a look at the reading habits of Americans in 2017.

I, for one, am not discouraged that only 13% of Americans say they didn’t read a book in 2017. It’s not an appallingly high number… though that additional 7% who say they’re “not sure” if they read a book are probably just too embarrassed to admit it, so we should round that number up to 20%. OK, we need to work on that.

But… younger people are reading more than anyone, which is good news; print books are more popular than eBooks, defying the predictions of the doomsday purveyors who predicted print would be dead by now; and six of the nine top-grossing authors of 2017 are American, for all of you keeping score at home.

The infographic also highlights the year’s top sellers, in both printed and eBook formats, the most popular books by state, and a listing of the most literate cities in the US. Is yours among them?

Work hard now and maybe we can get our titles listed on 2019’s “Most Anticipated Books” list.

Happy new year!

reading habits of Americans infographic

[ hana-code-insert ] 'SurveyResults' is not found


  1. WOW! E-Book sales were down by 18.7% Would really like to know what happened in the previous years. Is this a part of a larger downward trend? Most of my e-books are around 30,000-40,000 words which I consider too short to be made available in print. Time to reconsider.

  2. I have been writing full time for the past twelve years since I left the “day job.” In those years I have completed seven novels, all are edited and proofed and range from 136K to 162K words. Five of the books are a series, scifi/fantasy, space opera, and the other two are more mainstream scifi. To date none of these have been published by a trad publisher and in fact I have not been picked up by an agent. I have pitched three of the books and have collected a total of 280 rejection emails. The books have been through beta readers with great reviews and all seven have been reviewed by “Reader’s Favorite”, five reviews each, all except one received all five star review ratings. That one stood out in receiving a single three star review proving you just can’t satisfy everybody. Bottom Line: The books appear to be good, my style and characters get raves but I cannot get an agent to even read an MS. I am about as discouraged as one can get and I’ve spent many thousands on editors, coaches and reviews. I feel like I am living in Bizarro Land but I won’t stop writing, it is my life. I’m seventy years old and I see writers in their mid twenties on the NY Best Sellers list. I wrote for magazines for thirty years prior to switching to novels. I was popular and made good money with the mags. I NEED HELP. I’ll pay whatever is required to find out what I’m doing wrong.

    • Based on my stint with a literary agency…
      Agents get swamped with manuscripts so it comes down to catching their attention in 10 seconds (much like any good billboard). If your subject line grabs their attention, great. If it’s lackluster, they assume the manuscript is equally lackluster.
      Like sales in general, it helps to have a connection to the agent you want to attract. Are you following them on social media, reading articles they’ve been featured in, meeting them at book conferences or through contacts? Do you understand who the agents are and what they want? Is your pitch about you or about them?
      Are you a sellable author with a platform? If you have a reputation and a following, you bring cache. Publishers take the risk to produce the book and sell to distributors, but by and large, they aren’t marketing the book so they rely on the author and the author’s celebrity to sell the book.
      If your book is really good, that’s nice. But not enough. Agents are looking for a standout OMG, you gotta read this manuscript.
      What turns them off: Not well written. Not new. Not relevant. Not well developed. Not in love with the characters. Not their genre or point-of-view. Not what they want right now.
      With each rejection, what have you learned? Some are just thank you, no thank you and others give insight into why the manuscript was rejected.
      Good luck. Writing is not for the faint of heart.

  3. As usual, statistics give an idea and hide the essentials. Forty one percent of Americans either don’t read, slightly read or have read less. Fifty nine percent have read more or just as much as usual. This is not very flattering for a developed country. It would be nice to know what the same study would be like abroad.
    A missing info here is why E-book sales have declined, not that I regret it particularly.
    Last but not least, knowing how much they read does not tell us exactly what they read. Out of the 59% who read a lot, how much of what they read is tawdry romance? Knowing that most people like to eat out does not tell us how much junk food they eat and if we should encourage them to eat more of it.

    • Maurice Guy: Completely agree with your comments. I suspect that if we used the same study on countries such as China, India, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Russia, and their adjacent countries, we’d see how shameful those statistics really are. And can they be generalised to the UK, Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe? Or are they doing better? These stats raise so many more questions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.