The book 'Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams' by Timothy Lister and Tom DeMarco makes an unreferenced claim that:
"The average software developer, for example, doesn't own a single book on the subject of his or her work, and hasn't ever read one."
The claim is notable because Peopleware is an important book in the Software Engineering field, regularly featuring in lists of important or influential programming books and has been repeated in other highly regarded books such as 'Code Complete' by Steve McConnell.
The claim has also been referenced elsewhere by leading industry figures - such as on StackOverflow founder Jeff Atwood's Coding Horror blog (citing Peopleware as a source. In this same post he also claims two books which make this claim - Peopleware and Code Complete - are in the top five books every programmer should read).
There are several possible inteperetations of this claim based around what "average software developer" and "the subject of his or her work" means but for the purpose of this question I have interpreted this claim to make 2 distinct claims:
- More than 50% of practicing professional software developers don't own a book on software development.
- More than 50% of practicing professional software developers have never read a book on Software Development.
Are either of these claims supported by evidence?
Edit: As @ChrisW mentions below - this book was first published in 1987 and so is dated. But the book (and claim) are still referenced widely. I'm interested in either the historical accuracy of the claim (and would accept research conducted around the same time as the book showing this to be true/false) or whether these claims are true for the modern state of software development.