Censorship at the library? 3 in 4 Americans don’t think books should be banned

NEW YORK — Almost three-quarters of Americans don’t believe there should be censorship of books. The survey of 2,000 Americans reveals 73 percent are opposed to banning books — and 43 percent have sought out challenged or banned books to read in 2022.

Respondents viewed a list of ​​some of the most frequently banned books since 1990, according to the American Library Association, and were asked which ones they’ve ever read. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (31%) topped the list, with “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak in second and third, respectively.

Commissioned by Half Price Books and conducted by OnePoll, the survey looked beyond banned and challenged books and delved into respondents’ overall reading habits for 2022. The survey finds that the average American reads two and a half books per month — and only nine percent of Americans didn’t read a single book over the course of the year.

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Throughout the year, 48 percent discovered a new favorite book, series, or author, but not everything they read was a success: 62 percent also found something they absolutely hated.

banned books

4 in 5 stick to the best-seller list

Four in five (83%) readers also picked up at least one of the best-selling books of 2022. When looking through a list of best-selling books from The New York Times, Americans were most likely to have read “Run, Rose, Run” by Dolly Parton and James Patterson (24%), followed by Stephen King’s “Fairy Tale” (23%), and Nora Roberts’ “Nightwork” (22%).

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“Regardless of whether people are choosing best sellers, rereading old favorites or picking up something new, we will always promote building better reading habits by making books more accessible to all,” says Kathy Doyle Thomas, president of Half Price Books, in a statement.

For some respondents, having too many books is a real problem: 64 percent say they own so many books, they don’t have space for them all. They also don’t have time to read them all, either. On average, respondents say 35 percent of the books on their shelves are unread.

That’s not likely to change anytime soon, as 40 percent of readers have increased their “to-be-read” pile over the course of 2022.

This might be due in part to respondents not learning the lesson of, “never judge a book by its cover.” Six in 10 (59%) admit they’re guilty of this — and a third (34%) admit they’re more likely to buy a physical copy of a book if it has an aesthetically-pleasing cover.

Americans are going back to the library

However, respondents are still cognizant of how many books they have, and 62 percent are trying to spend less money on new books — by shopping used, checking them out from the library, and trading with friends or family instead.

The numbers reflect that as 56 percent say they are buying used books, followed closely by trading with loved ones (55%) or buying new (55%). Half of the respondents also currently use a local library to check out books.

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“We encourage readers to find ways to keep books in circulation by sharing with others, selling them back or even checking them out from their local library,” Thomas says. “A used book reads the same as a new book and keeps excess reading material out of landfills.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Half Price Books between Nov. 18–21, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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