Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Reading Motives Scale: A Uses and Gratifications Study of What Drives People to Read

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Reading Motives Scale: A Uses and Gratifications Study of What Drives People to Read

Article excerpt


The Uses and Gratifications literature contains numerous scales measuring people's motives for media-related activities such as watching television, using the Internet, listening to radio. In this study the Reading Motives Scale was developed and tested. Factor analyses were performed in order to reduce scale items into relatively homogeneous factors with descriptive names. These factors were then used to better describe user motives for consuming the particular medium, and in numerous cases to predict that particular behavior. Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses were performed to analyze the data, along with t-tests assessing inter-group differences, and a regression against self-reported reading activity. Marketing applications and implications are provided.


While books have been around far longer than television, radio, and the Internet, reading motivations have been overlooked and underrepresented in uses and gratifications research. Technology has begun to impact how books are consumed. E-readership is up 70% (Richtel & Miller, 2010), with e-books representing 7% of book sales (Hyatt, 2011) with projections of ebooks representing 22.5% of all book sales by 2015 (PWC, 201 1).

There are numerous theoretical and practical reasons for studying uses and gratifications of reading books, the most significant of which is reader motives.. "The uses and gratifications paradigm has proven helpful in identifying a variety of motives regarding media use and viewing patterns that reflect the utility, selectivity and intentionality of audience activity" (Ebersole & Woods, 2007, p. 24). These patterns are identified as either an instrumental orientation, which reflect more intentional media choices, or a ritualized orientation, which reflect less intentional choices (Rubin, 1993).

Choice of media consumption is highly personal, and thus dependent upon a variety of factors. As with other media, it can be assumed that book choices are volitional and thus based on particular user goals. There is a paucity of research examining reader motivations, and thus a great need to more fully understand this phenomenon. Metzger and Flanagin (2002) focused on ritualized and instrumental media orientations between new media (i.e., e-mail, Internet, and web) and traditional media (i.e., books and magazines, newspapers, telephone, and television) and found the use of traditional media to be more ritualistic, but even the authors acknowledged that the clustering of media could "obscure the degree of audience activity for the traditional media cluster" (p. 347). It is difficult to draw conclusions about any one media form because multiple media forms were included in this one study..

The purpose of this paper is to breaking out an individual media form, specifically reading motivations. This will likely present a clearer picture of motivations than grouping multiple media formats that have limited similarities. We start by examining the cultural and historical influence of books and then address the current direction of uses and gratifications with the intention of linking the medium and theory.


The National Endowment for the Arts has noted that Americans are reading less and comprehending less. This may be the result of numerous forces, including time poverty, cost, and interest. By virtue of this, the societal implications are great (2004; 2007). Also relevant to this is the finding that "the number of books in a home is a significant predictor of academic achievement" (???, 2007, p. 11). Proficiency in reading is also positively related to one's job and resulting income level. While cause and effect cannot necessarily be inferred, the relationship is not one to be ignored. Education is antecedent to employment, which results in income. Books thus play a very important role in our lives, and ignoring the importance of reading is detrimental at both personal and societal levels. …

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