Infographic The Books Americans Are Reading – And What That Reveals About Us by Barna Group
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What the Research Means
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, directed the research and pointed out several implications of the research.
1. Americans are increasingly craving a multi-media way to enjoy their favorite stories. The large crossover between those who have read and seen The Hunger Games, Twilight and The Hobbitsuggests that movies and television propel books and vice versa. Having fiction translated onto screen also aids serialized content by helping people “get the story” without having to read all of the installments of the novels.
2. Despite the emerging digital landscape, the research also suggests book reading is not dying out. Especially surprising from the data is that young adult readers—generations that Barna Group labels Busters and Mosaics—make up the primary audience for most of the books assessed. Even for a “very old” book like The Hobbit, the majority of readers were under the age of 50. The exception to this came with a few of the Christian books, including TerKeurst’s’s Unglued, Lucado’s Grace and Alexander’s Proof of Heaven, which all skewed toward Boomers and Elders.
3. Another unmistakable pattern in the research is the power of stories—namely, fiction—in propelling the publishing industry. Even though both genres (fiction and non-fiction) have tens of thousands of titles that are published every year that do not reach critical success, the best and nearly only chance for breakthrough, culture-making book-form content is through fiction. Perhaps this indicates that Americans are hungry for media that provides some sort of escapism from stressful and uninspired lives. But it also harkens to something Jesus himself modeled: people resonate with and learn through stories and parables.
4. Finally, the level of engagement with the Bible is enlightening. It is not a surprise that so many practicing Christians report reading their primary sacred text from front to back. It is surprising that nearly a fifth of people who claim another faith than Christianity and nearly a tenth of people with no faith claim to have done the same. It suggests Christians should not assume non-Christians are categorically unfamiliar with their sacred scripture.