Americans are buying more books than ever, but reading fewer than ever

The publishing industry is booming. According to Publishers Weekly, sales of print books rose 8.9% in 2021, selling 825.7 million units, up from 757.9 million in 2020. This is the second year in a row to see a similar sales jump; in 2020, sales were up 8.2% from 2019, in which 693.7 million units were sold.

And it wasn’t just people buying coloring books to distract their children during the never-ending pandemic. In fact, every category tracked saw an increase in sales except for Juvenile Nonfiction; the most dramatic of these was Young Adult Fiction, which jumped 30.7% in 2021. Every format except Mass Market Paperbacks saw a rise too, per Publishers Weekly:

So, books are selling. (These figures are based on NPD BookScan, which captures an estimated 85% of new book sales.)  But what are people . . . doing with all these brand new books? Because according to a recent Gallup poll, they’re not reading them. In fact, these days Americans are reading less than they have in over 30 years.

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By Emily Temple
(Source:; January 12, 2022;
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