Released: December 20, 2012

Reading Habits in Different Communities

Part 5: Where and How Readers Get Their Books

By , and

Reader preferences for where and how they get their books are surprisingly similar across community types, yet the source of recommendations for new books to read and the way in which readers begin their search for e-books do show some interesting differences across communities.

Urban, suburban, and rural residents are similar in whether they prefer to buy or borrow print, e-books, or audiobooks and they are comparable in whether their most recent book was purchased or borrowed.  However, suburban residents depend more on family members, friends, and co-workers for suggestions for new books to read, and rural residents are least likely to rely on the staff of a bookstore for reading recommendations, perhaps because there are fewer bookstores in their vicinity.

Across all three communities, a large majority of e-readers begin their search for an e-book at an online bookstore, but suburban residents are slightly more likely than those living in rural areas to begin their search for an e-book this way.

Readers of both e-books and print books were asked which type of book is better for different reading activities such as sharing books with others, reading in bed, reading with a child, or reading while traveling.  Generally, urban readers are more likely to prefer e-books for many reading activities while rural readers who have read in both formats tend to prefer print.  For reading in bed and offering a wide selection, urban residents are more likely than those in rural communities to say e-books are better.  Rural residents, on the other hand, are significantly less likely to say e-books are better than print for sharing books with others.  Residents of these different types of communities do not differ from each other in their views of the best type of book for reading with a child, reading while traveling, or being able to get books quickly.