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Twenty-one per cent of U.S. adults surveyed in February had read at least one e-book in the past year. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

Americans who have read an e-book in the past year are much bigger readers than those who read only print books, a new study has found.

E-book users read an average of 24 books, while non-e-book users read just 15, in the previous 12 months before a December 2011 survey, reported the Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank in a study released Wednesday night.

The study was based on three surveys of at least 2,000 people each over age 16, between November 2011 and February 2012. The margin of error for each survey was plus or minus 2 to 2.4 percentage points.

Some other findings of the study were:

  • 21 per cent of U.S. adults surveyed in February had read at least one e-book in the past year, while 72 per cent said they had read at least one printed book over the same period.
  • Most e-book readers said they read e-books either on a computer (42 per cent) or an e-book reader (41 per cent), but 29 per cent read e-books on a cellphone and 23 per cent did so on a tablet computer.
  • 88 per cent of e-book readers had also read at least one printed book in the past year.
  • Owners of e-book readers were more likely (61 per cent) than other readers (48 per cent) to have purchased the most recent book they read, rather than borrowing from a friend, family member or the library.
  • When asked which books were best for reading to children, 81 per cent of respondents preferred print books.
  • When asked which books were best for travelling or commuting, 73 per cent chose e-books.

The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.