Paper, digital or otherwise, people read to escape

Pew Internet Research is looking into the rise of e-books and what motivates people to buy them. The obvious first question is: why do you read books at all?

Their list of responses – which were directly quoted, then reviewed and categorized for the poll results – is interesting. Knowledge-building is the top most common answer, but the second most-common answer was, in one form or another, escapism:

Those who talked about quiet entertainment tended toward phrases like “a stress-free escape,” “a nice way to relax,” “I read because it’s not work,” “diverting, entertaining and educational,” and “It draws me away from reality.” That was echoed by a respondent who said reading “takes you away, like a movie in your head.” One wryly said he liked reading “because it helps me with my temper and relaxes me.”


One respondent noted: “I am an English teacher, so I read to save my sanity from grading essays.”

Interestingly, the full report notes that, regardless of how they consume books, technology owners generally read more. What is not noted – and might have provided some interesting insight – is why people read, as broken down by e-book readers vs. paper lovers. Might the escapism and fantasy of books lure more paper readers than digital? Maybe Pew will ask that question next time…

Why people like to read | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.