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More young people are reading with digital devices like e-readers and smartphones because it's convenient.

Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

Young Americans read on the go

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY
  • Star Tribune
  • October 28, 2012 - 11:38 PM

How's this for a teeny, tiny new literary habit: More than 40 percent of Americans under age 30 who read e-books devour them on their mobile phones.

The small screens are the second most popular way for that age group to read e-books, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Local librarians chalk it up to tech savvy and the ubiquity of mobile phones among the younger set.

"[Teens] would just try anything that they could get onto their smartphones," said Jennifer Verbrugge, youth programming coordinator for Dakota County Libraries. "Whatever works to get them to read more I think is wonderful."

The survey also showed that e-readers and tablets weren't the most popular devices for digital reading. The most common way for Americans ages 16 to 29 to read e-books was a desktop or laptop computer.

Gadget habits aside, book lovers need not fret that younger generations are missing out on chances to thumb through dog-eared pages.

Like older Americans, those under 30 said they read more ink-and-paper than digital text. Among the youngest group surveyed, 16- and 17-year-olds, 77 percent reported having read a print book in the previous year while just 12 percent had read an e-book.

But the younger folks were more likely to say e-content, convenient and on-demand, is a key reason they are reading more and more.

"They find themselves pulling up books on their phones when they have books, here and there, in between classes at school," said Kathryn Zickuhr, a research analyst with Pew's Internet and American Life Project. "It might be part of this general trend of high mobile usage that we've seen amongst younger Americans."

Sarah Park, assistant professor of library and information science at St. Catherine University, pointed to the accessibility of cellphones.

"You're more likely to have a smartphone than have an iPad or something else," she said.

But there are also plenty of people who can't afford expensive gadgets, Park said.

Of course, according to Pew, the younger Americans are among the most eager for libraries to start lending pre-loaded e-readers.

Katie Humphrey • 612-673-4758

© 2014 Star Tribune