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Study: Less Than A Quarter Of Americans Read Newspapers

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A new study shows that newspapers, magazines and books are being read by fewer Americans. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

A new study shows that newspapers, magazines and books are being read by fewer Americans. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The number of Americans reading print newspapers, magazines and books is in rapid decline.

Only 29 percent of Americans now say they read a newspaper yesterday – with just 23 percent reading a print newspaper. Over the past decade, the percentage reading a print newspaper the previous day has fallen by 18 points (from 41 percent to 23 percent). Somewhat more (38 percent) say they regularly read a daily newspaper, although this percentage also has declined, from 54 percent in 2004.

Also according to the recent Pew Research Center poll, Americans enjoy reading as much as ever – 51 percent say they enjoy reading a lot. This is little changed over the past two decades, but a declining proportion gets news or reads other material on paper on a typical day. Many readers are now shifting to digital platforms to read the papers.

Substantial percentages of the regular readers of leading newspapers now read them digitally. Currently, 55 percent of regular New York Times readers say they read the paper mostly on a computer or mobile device, as do 48 percent of regular USA Today and 44 percent of Wall Street Journal readers.

Over the past decade, there have been smaller declines in the percentages of Americans reading a magazine or book in print (six points and four points, respectively) than for newspapers.

Print magazine reading is down by 7 percent from 2006, and book reading is down by 8 percent since 2006. Also, the percentage of people who wrote or received a personal letter declined 8 percent from 20 to 12 in the last six years.

And television viewership may be on the decline next.

While print sources have suffered readership losses in recent years, television news viewership has remained more stable. Currently, 55 percent say they watched the news or a news program on television yesterday, little changed from recent years. But there are signs this may also change. Only about a third (34 percent) of those younger than 30 say they watched TV news yesterday; in 2006, nearly half of young people (49 percent) said they watched TV news the prior day.

Among older age groups, the percentages saying they watched TV yesterday has not changed significantly over this period.

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