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Why 442,600 didn't read a book last year

28 Aug 18

Why 442,600 didn't read a book last year

New research by Horizon for the Book Council finds 442,600 Kiwis didn’t read a book in the past year.

The research also found that fewer men are reading books.

The 2018 study reports that 86% of New Zealand adults had read or started to read at least one book in the past year, down from 88% last year.

Looking closer at this figure shows the percentage of female respondents reading has remained essentially the same, but there was a decline in the percentage of male respondents reading.

The survey also asked New Zealanders how they are using their leisure time, to see how reading fits in to our lives and about the other languages we read.

As in 2017, the majority of us read for relaxation and enjoyment, and our favourite fiction genres are crime, thriller and adventure stories.

The Book Council says: This report confirmed 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.

Almost 50% of Kiwi adult survey respondents read at least one book by a New Zealand author in the past 12 months.

But not all the findings were positive.

The survey also reveals that 394,000 Kiwi adults did not read (or even start to read) a book in the last 12 months. 31% say that they don’t have time to read, 24% say that they don’t enjoy reading, and 16% say they feel it is easier to watch movies based on a book.

“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," says Book Council Chief Executive Jo Cribb.

"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 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 Writers in Schools and Writers in Communities programmes, 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 and the final report includes data supplied by Public Libraries of New Zealand, National Library of New Zealand, and Nielsen BookScan. 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.

The Book Council’s vision is to grow a nation of readers. It will use survey results to inform a number of its programmes and projects. It says the research forms the foundation of our knowledge about our reading in New Zealand.

"We will continue to work to ensure New Zealanders keep reading, with a particular focus on our boys."

The full report and appended tables can be downloaded here.