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One in Four Read No Books Last Year

People from the West and Midwest are more likely to have read at least one book in the past year. Southerners who do read, however, tend to read more books, mostly religious books and romance novels, than people from other regions. Whites read more than blacks and Hispanics, and those who said they never attend religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attend frequently.

There was even some political variety evident, with Democrats and liberals typically reading slightly more books than Republicans and conservatives.

The Bible and religious works were read by two-thirds in the survey, more than all other categories. Popular fiction, histories, biographies and mysteries were all cited by about half, while one in five read romance novels. Every other genre _ including politics, poetry and classical literature _ were named by fewer than five percent of readers.

More women than men read every major category of books except for history and biography. Industry experts said that confirms their observation that men tend to prefer nonfiction.

"Fiction just doesn't interest me," said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Ala. "If I'm going to get a story, I'll get a movie."

Those likeliest to read religious books included older and married women, lower earners, minorities, lesser educated people, Southerners, rural residents, Republicans and conservatives.

The publishing business totaled $35.7 billion in global sales last year, 3 percent more than the previous year, according to the Book Industry Study Group, a trade association. About 3.1 billion books were sold, an increase of less than 1 percent.

The AP-Ipsos poll was conducted from August 6 to 8 and involved telephone interviews with 1,003 adults. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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AP Manager of News Surveys Trevor Tompson and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

(This version CLARIFIES that people in the West and Midwest are more likely to read at least one book a year, but that Southerners who do read tend to read more books.)


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© 2007 The Associated Press