For the last few years I’ve had a stat I heard once over dinner rattling around my head. The stat was that only ten percent of Americans will ever set foot in a bookstore. It sounded just implausible enough to be true, but I had no way of verifying it. Well, a relative of mine has been participating in Gallup polling for the last year or so and forwarded me an email from Gallup about the percentage of Americans who shop for books, and where they do so. It’s not as dismal as I had feared, but it’s closer than you might think.
Are we becoming Aliterate America: A country that can read (we’re not illiterate) but doesn’t — that’s where the ‘a’ comes in.

–Panelists say they are more likely to shop for books at a local discount retailer than they are to purchase the newest novel from a favorite author at a national bookstore chain or local book dealer. Specifically, 42% of panelists say they shopped for books at Target®, Wal-Mart®, or some other discount retailer in the past three months. This is slightly more than those who say they shopped at Barnes & Noble® (37%), Borders® (27%), or some other bookstore (33%) during that time.
Panelists are as likely to say they shopped for books at popular Web site® in the past three months (24%) as they were to have gone book-shopping at a wholesale distributor such as Costco® (23%). However, panelists who say they shopped for books online are more likely to have gone to than they were to have shopped at other Web sites (18%).

Plus, I’ll throw in this for good measure, it was also in the email.

–When it comes to packing boxes and moving, Gallup Panel members are decidedly staying put. When asked to rate how likely they are to move to a series of specific places in the next two years on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all likely” and 5 being “extremely likely,” at least three-quarters of panelists say they are not at all likely or somewhat unlikely to move to a different home in their city or area (72%), to another part of the state where they live (83%), to a different state (81%), or outside of the United States (95%).
–About one-quarter of panelists (23%) say they own a membership to a gym or exercise facility. Younger panelists are more likely than their older counterparts to belong to a gym or fitness facility, while those with higher levels of education and higher levels of household income are more likely than those with less education and money to be members of a gym.

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