Australia loves books? New research reveals our reading habits

A new survey released by the Australia Council and Macquarie University reveals that 92% of Australians have read a book in the last year. Just over half (51%) of the population has read between one and ten books over the course of the year, while 41% has read more than ten books in that period.

Reading the reader: A survey of Australian reading habits reveals that while there have been significant changes to the Australian book industry over the last decade, there’s still a strong culture of reading and literature amongst Australians.

And while the use of technology has changed how people are purchasing and engaging with books (more than half of all readers consume e-books at times), physical books still maintain their dominance.

Source: Australia Council/Macquarie University
Source: Australia Council/Macquarie University

Just over half (51%) of Australians have an interest in what could be termed “literary fiction” — eligible for prizes like the Man Booker and Miles Franklin — and it’s generally older readers who are most interested in literary fiction. Older readers also tend to be more interested in work by Australian authors.

The most popular fiction genre is crime/mystery/thriller, with 49% of Australians having read a book of that genre in the last 12 months. It’s followed by historical fiction on 36%, contemporary/general fiction on 33%, science fiction/fantasy on 32%, and classics on 31%.

Source: Australia Council/Macquarie University
Source: Australia Council/Macquarie University

The report also proved what booksellers have said anecdotally for a number of years: that older people and women are Australia’s most avid readers.

Source: Australia Council/Macquarie University
Source: Australia Council/Macquarie University

Social media and the internet have had some impact upon the time Australians spend on reading books, although the time spent reading overall — including magazines, newspapers, books, websites, blogs — has risen slightly over the last five years.

But 95% of us still enjoy reading books for pleasure or interest, and 68% would like to read more.

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