Number of books purchased per capita in the U.S. 2014

The statistic above presents the results of a survey among American adults regarding the number of books they purchased within the last year. In 2012, 11 percent of respondents stated that they purchased more than 21 books in the past year.

Book purchasing in the United States – additional information

A survey in 2013 asked its respondents to rate the most important features in printed books which attracted them to buy. The ability to add to their library and/or bookshelf was the most popular answer with 34 percent of respondents stating that it was the most important attribute. A further 29 percent stated that the look and/or feel of the paper the book was printed on contributed to their decision to purchase.
As of May 2014, Barnes & Noble was the largest retail bookseller in the United States with stores in all 50 states. Their first store opened in 1917 in New York City and in 2014, they were the last remaining national bookstore. A survey in the spring of 2013 asked; In the event that Barnes and Noble closed, what other sources would you shift your book purchases to? Of those who responded, 89 percent of stated that they would buy their books from instead and a further 12 percent said they would purchase their books directly from the author’s website.
In 2011, a strong rival of Barnes & Noble’s, the Borders Group filed for bankruptcy which led to liquidation of over 500 stores and the redundancy of approximately 19,500 employees in the United States alone. Unfortunately, Borders has not been the only casualty of the book industry in recent years. The number of bookstores in the United States from 2004 to 2018 has changed dramatically. In 2004 there were 38.54 thousand bookstores. It has been projected that this number will fall to 22.59 thousand in 2018, indicating a loss of almost 16 thousand bookstores across the United States.

How many books have you purchased in the past year?

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Release date

April 2014


United States

Survey time period

2010 to 2014 (2014: March 12 and 17, 2014)

Number of respondents

2014: n = 2,234

Age group

18 years and older

Method of interview

Online panel

Supplementary notes

Data for the period 2010 to 2012 come from earlier Harris Interactive releases.
Data for 2013 not available.

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