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Are Books Dead? Nearly a Quarter of Us Haven’t Read One Lately

This includes reading lengthy material on our smartphones — what's going on here? Some of these new findings will surprise you

As hobbies go, curling up with a good book is about as all-American as baseball games, barbecues and going to the movies  — which is why passionate bibliophiles may be surprised to learn that nearly 25 percent of American adults say that haven’t read a single book in an entire year.

This includes print, electronic, and even audio formats, according to the Pew Research Center.

In an article titled “Who Doesn’t Read Books in America?” Andrew Perrin, a Pew Research Center analyst, noted that the lack of book reading is related to a host of factors.

Surveys conducted by Pew Research reveal that adults with a high school degree or less are about five times as likely as college graduates to not have read a book in any format during the past year.

That’s surely not surprising — and neither is that income also plays a big role, as many view reading as a luxury and a leisure activity.

Adults with annual household earnings of $30,000 or less are about three times as likely as their more affluent counterparts to abstain from reading books — while Hispanic adults are about twice as likely as whites to report not having read a book in the past 12 months.

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Interestingly enough, among Hispanic adults, 51 percent of those who are foreign-born say they are much more likely not to have hunkered down with a good book in a year’s time, compared with 22 percent of those born in the United States.

What’s especially noteworthy, however, is how technology affects book reading.

Adults with lower levels of education are less likely to own smartphones, even as e-book reading on the all-in-one, pocket-sized devices has increased significantly in a relatively short span of time.

Related: Stop with the Phones Already and Listen to Your Little Kids

Of real concern, though, is the fact that since 2011, the share of non-book reading adults has increased nearly 6 percent — from 19 percent to nearly 25 percent today.

And it begs the question: If more than 60 million adults nationwide are not reading books, where are they getting their information, their inspiration, their illumination?

One hopes it is not exclusively — or even mostly — from the mainstream media.

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.

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