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Research Results

2.8 m adults reading books, 394,000 not

29 Jul 17

Credit: Book Council
2.8 m adults reading books, 394,000 not
Huge numbers reading books

A new survey into New Zealanders’ reading habits confirms not only are we a nation that loves to read – we devour an average of 20.6 books a year – but also a nation that loves to read our own stories.

Overall, 88% of adults, equivalent to around 2,804,900 New Zealanders 18 years of age or over, had read or started to read at least one book in the past 12 months.

Almost 50% of Kiwi adult survey respondents read at least one book by a New Zealand author in the past 12 months. The majority of us read for relaxation and enjoyment, and our favourite fiction genres are crime, thriller and adventure stories.

But not all the findings were positive.

The survey also reveals that 394,000 Kiwi adults did not read a book in the last months.

31% say that it was because they had not had the time to read, 24% say that it was because they didn’t really enjoy reading, and 16% say they felt it was easier watching movies based on a book.

Jo CribbBook Council Chief Executive Jo Cribb (right) says: “It is brilliant to see that so many Kiwis love to read. However, it is very alarming that almost half a million people in Aoteaora did not read a book in the past 12 months. The increasing demands of society and work mean more than ever New Zealanders need to understand and apply information across a range of sources in order to function effectively at work and everyday life.  Reading is the critical foundation for all types of literacy.” 

New Zealand Book Council Patron Albert Wendt ONZ CNZM says that “getting reading on the national agenda is a crucial step in breaking the poverty cycle in New Zealand. There are already some excellent initiatives out there such as the Book Council’s annual Writers in Communities programme, but more needs to be done. Encouraging reading, particularly reading for pleasure, is critical to ensure all New Zealanders can be part of our nation’s prosperity.”

The Book Reading in New Zealand survey was conducted by Horizon Research for the New Zealand Book Council. It is available at

The Book Council will use the insights from this research to enhance its existing strategies for increasing the number of lifelong readers for pleasure, and for encouraging greater consumption of New Zealand fiction. It will also share the findings with the wider industry, including publishers, booksellers and media.

TVNZ One News coverage of this report is available here.