Eight out of ten Canadians are readers, with the preponderance of them reading daily or weekly. Those are among the findings contained in BookNet Canada’s recent Canadian Leisure and Reading Study 2020, which aims to provide a snapshot of reading habits and patterns across the country.
BookNet, which tracks publishing, bookselling, and reading data in Canada, surveyed 1,266 people at the beginning of 2020. Of those, 1,000 were determined to be readers (having reported reading at least one book in the previous twelve months), while the remaining 266 were deemed non-readers.
Numbers of books read per year tended to increase according to age, with the largest percentages of frequent and avid readers (those who read twelve or more books in a year) being among people 65 and older. Respondents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine were keeping pace with their fifty-five- to sixty-four-year-old elders as frequent readers.
Book buying was also common, with 83% reporting having bought at least one book last year. Word-of-mouth was the biggest driver of discoverability (at 34%), followed by bookstore and public library recommendations (at 29% each). Online retailers (22%) and social media (18%) accounted for a smaller percentage of the ways in which readers discovered books, although online discovery went up unsurprisingly for those who reported only reading digital books.
Print was the most desirable format for all age groups. The highest percentage of readers reporting a preference for ebooks (21%) was among those in the forty-five to fifty-four age group.
As for what people were reading, mysteries and thrillers were the most popular category in fiction, with non-fiction readers preferring history and biography/memoir. Science fiction follows mystery in preference, with literary fiction and short stories coming in fifth and sixth place. (Though literary fiction was the second-most popular genre among readers aged forty-five to fifty-four.)
One interesting statistic in BookNet’s survey finds that the more books people read, the better chance they would seek out books by and about BIPOC, disabled, queer, or other minority groups or individuals. Generally, there was large interest in books that have been adapted for other formats, such as television or movies, which is as unsurprising as it is depressing.
While it makes sense that people who read larger quantities of books would want to seek out more diverse subject matter and writers, it would be interesting to find out how much overlap there is in BookNet’s categories. For example, one presumes that at least some books adapted for television or movies were written by BIPOC, queer, or disabled authors. (Same with graphic novels, poetry, and books in a language other than English.)
The full text of BookNet’s Canadian Leisure and Reading Study 2020 can be accessed below.