Do people still read books?

In May 2017 The Australia Council for the Arts released a summary of new research (in partnership with Macquarie University) into Australian book reading habits. These are the great results.

  • Australians rank reading as their favourite leisure activity
  • Australians prefer a printed book in their hands, over an ebook
  • Australians become absorbed in fiction and non-fiction for escapism, or thought-provoking reflection.
  • 9 in 10 Australians classify themselves as “readers”.
  • The majority of Australians believe books provide much greater value to our lives than the price they are sold for.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 Australians still read print books, despite the changing industry and new technology.
  • Reading books ranks higher than time online and watching tv, as a leisure activity.
  • Nearly all Australians (95%) read for pleasure or interest.
  • Two-thirds of Australians would like to read more.
  • The most common reason for reading is Relaxation and Stress-Release.
  • 3 of 4 people believe reading makes a contribution to their life which goes beyond the cost of the book.
  • 4 out of 5 adult Australians encourage their children to read.
  • 1 in 2 readers also read e-books, and 1 in 10 also listen to audio books.
  • Almost 3 out of 4 readers prefer to browse books in a retail shop as a way of finding out what is available.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 Australians interact with books and reading through social media and online platforms.
  • Every month, nearly as many people borrow books from the library as those who buy new books.
  • The most popular outlet for buying books is major book chains.
  • The second most popular outlet for buying books is overseas websites.
  • The third most popular outlet for buying books is second-hand outlets.
  • Australians also share books amongst friends, almost as often as they borrow them from public libraries.
  • Almost 3 out of 4 Australians believe Australian children should read books set in Australia and written by Australian authors.
  • A little over half of Australians believe it’s important for Australians to have their Australian books published within Australia.
  • Almost 2 out of 3 Australians believe books by Indigenous Australian writers are important for Australian culture.
  • The second most widely read genre is autobiography, biography, or memoirs.

*Where “Australians” is written above, this means the group of Australians who were surveyed in this study.

You hear the question often when you say you are an author, or working on your next book. “But do people still read books?” The short answer is a definite yes. There is no doubt that the book industry is expanding – but it’s just rumours that suggest people are moving away from reading books in print. In reality, the book-reading industry this year is as stable as it was in previous years.


5 thoughts on “Do people still read books?

  1. Good to hear that at least Australians reads books. In Italy the situation is totally different. Most Italian people don’t even own a book. When a “typical Italian” visits me at home and they see my library, they ask “why?”. What should I then answer? “Because there was a time before cellphones and internet!”, “Because I can read!”, “Because I don’t want to die stupid!” … oh man!

    1. Wow this is amazing. Thanks for sharing! Come to think of it, my Italian grandparents didn’t have a book in their home either – I never thought much of it. However my Nonnas were both very supportive of my childhood aspirations to become an author! I agree that times have changed incredulously. Many people believe that books are a thing of the past, and yet in Australian libraries and schools, there is still a great deal of encouragement to read with children, and the DIY author market is booming.

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