Council for the Arts has today released a summary of new research into
Australian book reading habits which reveals Australians rank reading as their
favourite leisure activity and they still prefer a printed book in their hands.
A Survey of Australian Reading Habits was undertaken in
partnership with Macquarie University as the final stage of the University’s
major three-part study of Australia’s changing book industry. Conducted in
2016, the Survey provides unique insights into current preferences, attitudes
and reading behaviours of Australians, and was developed in consultation with a
wide range of industry organisations and participants, including authors,
publishers, booksellers, librarians and educators.
Dr Wendy Were,
Executive Director Strategic Development and Advocacy, said the Australia
Council was proud to partner with Macquarie University on this project. The
survey outcomes were vital to making the case for the role of books and reading
in the lives of Australians and the imperative to support a vibrant and
sustainable literary culture.
explores the role of books in our lives, how we decide what to read, what we
enjoy, where we acquire books, and how we value them,” Dr Were said.
highlight how reading helps Australians transcend their daily lives and become
absorbed in stories – in fiction and non-fiction, for escapism or
thought-provoking reflection. We are delighted that this survey shows 92% of
Australians are classified as readers and the majority believe that books
provide much greater value to our lives than the price we pay for them.”
Council Director of Literature, Wenona Byrne said the Australian book industry
had experienced significant change in recent years, with the development of
digital publishing and retailing and the introduction of e-books. This new
research reveals there is a strong culture of books and reading in Australia,
and while many readers are accessing books in both print and digital forms,
nearly nine in ten are still reading print books.
digital technology and an array of entertainment and information options have
changed some of our daily habits, reading books is still an important and
highly valued part of our lives, ranking above time online and watching TV as a
preferred leisure activity,” Ms Byrne said.
encouraging to see that Australians value our stories and on average, read more
than three books per month and spend five hours a week reading. The good news
is that in general Australians want to read more, so the challenge in the
literature sector is to find ways and spaces to capture the hearts and minds of
from the research:
• We value and enjoy reading
and would like to do it more – 95% of Australians
enjoy reading books for pleasure or interest; 68% would like to read more, with
relaxation and stress release the most common reason for reading; and almost
three-quarters believe books make a contribution to their life that goes beyond
their cost. Over 80% of Australians with children encourage them to read.
• Most of us still turn pages but many are swiping too – While print books still dominate our reading, over half of all readers in-clude e-books in the mix, and 12% audio books. Most Australians
(71%) continue to buy books from bricks-and-mortar shops, while half (52%) are
purchasing online. Word of mouth recommendations and browsing in a bricks and
mortar bookshop are our preferred ways to find out what to read next. At the
same time, nearly a third of us interact with books and reading through social
media and online platforms.
• We are reading more than
book sales data alone suggests – each month almost
as many people borrow books (41%) as those who buy them (43%) and second-hand
outlets are the third most popular source for buying books (39%), after major
book chains (47%) and overseas websites (40%). Those who borrow books acquire
them almost as frequently from public libraries as they do by sharing among friends.
• We value Australian
stories and our book industry – 71% believe it is
important for Australia children to read books set in Australia and written by
Australian authors; and 60% believe it is important that books written by
Australian authors be published in Australia. While there is a common
perception among Australians that books are too expensive, more than half
believe Australian literary fiction is important. Almost two-thirds of
Australians believe books by Indigenous Australian writers are important for
• We like mysteries and thrillers
best – the crime/mystery/thriller genre is the most
widely read and takes top spot as our favourite reading category. We also love an autobiography, biography or memoir.
information and to explore interactive dashboards visit the Australia Council website.
Australia Council for the Arts is the Australian Government’s principal
arts funding and advisory body. The Australia Council is committed to making
the vitality of our arts and culture more visible, and to recognising and
supporting the evolving way that Australians make and experience art. Our role
is to support the unimagined along with the reimagined, the unknown and
experimental along with the keenly anticipated. We are a champion for
Australian arts both here and overseas.
Download Accessible Version