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2 out of 3 Californians like reading "a lot," survey finds


Two thirds of Californians say they like reading "a lot," according to a new survey. The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, released Thursday, looks at the state of books in the state. The conclusion? Things are looking good.

Some key findings:

25% of Californians say they read a book a week.

31% of Californians spend at least seven hours a week reading for pleasure.

17% of Californians spend more than 10 hours a week reading for pleasure.

80% of Californians read at least one book in the last month.

40% of Californians read three or more books in the last month.

18% of Californians read on a Nook, Kindle, iPad or other ereader.

As other reports have suggested, getting an ereader can lead to more reading. Thirty-four percent of Californians surveyed said that with an ereader, they read more books than they did before.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll surveyed 1,502 Californians between April 7 and 17.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Reading Thomas Pynchon in Malibu. Credit: Clinton Steedsvia Flickr

Comments () | Archives (7)

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One of these "key findings" is just plain hard to believe. If 80% of Californians read at least one book last month, what did the remaining 20% do for pleasure last month?

This is startling. I thought people were not supposed to want to read or just plain couldn't anymore. I read a lot, but then I'm an author, so I thought I was a dying breed. I even read things like Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. Two of my best reads in a while have been Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken and Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein. But then I was horribly disappointed in Tea Obreht's The Tiger's Wife. Sometimes a book just doesn't live up to its hype. But Bettany Hughes's The Hemlock Cup was another good one. Who would have thought that a book on Socrates and ancient Athens would be that enjoyable?

I do believe this thing about eReaders. I love books, but I'm starting to find that they aren't as handy as I once thought. You take your hands off them and they close up. I have to hunt for my place again. Plus, with an eReader you have an instant dictionary and Wikipedia. Reading means questions and question need answers. Can't click on the printed page. eReaders increase your inquisitiveness and lead to a better educated reading public. For my books, the digital editions are outselling hardcopy three to one.

David Sheppard

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Polling coalition just took a huge hit in credibility with this one. I had been skeptical in the past, but this seals it.

Ha ha ha! That's a good one! ... I would very much like to see the long form birth certificate for California's stunning new literary culture.

Hint to pollsters: "I read a book last week" and "I downloaded eight 99 cent books to my Swindle last week and I'm going to read three pages from each over the next two months" are not the same thing.

The numbers are surprisingly high, but I can tell you that since coming here from the midwest and east two years ago, I have concluded that Californians definitely do read more than people back that way. Sure, you see everyone on trains in NYC with a book or a paper, but that's to avoid making eye contact with anyone else.

I'm not surprised. That explains why Amazon's profits skyrocket even while we starve. Public libraries are usually reasonably crowded. My only concern is the monopoly that Amazon enjoys, even though my buying experiences been 99% excellent. I just don't enjoy one company monopolizing all book buying. Thank goodness some of the Barnes & Nobles are holding on, even while Borders are closing. Pretty much everyone I know are book buyers: either at church (debt-free programs), "success" seminars, or just regular stores. Churches, especially, are always trying to get our money.

“40% of Californians read three or more books in the last month.”

At, say, $10 a pop, that would mean Californians read $5,328,000,000* annually—or roughly 13.3% of the total worldwide publishing revenue of the American publishing industry in toto (about $40b +/-).

Not bad for less than half of one percent of the worldwide population (6.9b).

One does wonder, though, how the survey question was worded…

*37,000,000 Californians x 40% x 3 books each x $10 each x 12 months


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