Results of the Australia Reads 2021 National Reading Survey

29 November 2021

According to the recently published findings of Australia Reads 2021 National Reading Survey, one in four Australians did not engage with a book, either by reading or listening to one, in the eighteen months to June 2021. So much for thinking people would leap at the chance to read more, given many have had lockdown enforced downtime on their hands recently. I know I would’ve if I’d not been required to pretty much work continually throughout the most recent lockdown.

But 64% of respondents found the lure of movies and television too tempting, while 46% of people said perusing social media, and browsing the internet took up much of their time. Of the some three-thousand survey participants, about a third were general readers, being the proverbial average person on the street, while the remainder were considered to be “engaged” readers, generally being people subscribed to news updates from publishing houses, and who no doubt can be found on Bookstagram.

I’m not sure if three-thousand or so people makes for a particularly representative sample, but the findings are nonetheless fascinating reading. A few items caught my eye as I looked through the data. For instance:

  • 38% of Australians think they read more books during the pandemic, versus 53% who didn’t. 9% thought they read less.
  • Of engaged readers, 37% are considered to be obsessed readers, typically reading at least one book per week.
  • Many “obsessed readers” have numerous book in their TBR stack, and read two or three titles simultaneously.
  • 52% of respondents have never listened to an audio book.
  • 54% of Australians give up on (DNF) a book if they don’t quickly become interested in it.
  • 43% prefer a book recommendation from family and friends, while…
  • … less than 12% of respondents trust recommendations via social media.
  • And, 3% of Australians think they spend too much time reading.

Encouragingly though, becoming a regular reader, for all the associated benefits, isn’t too difficult. If a person were to read for ten minutes a day, assuming a rate of three-hundred words per minute, that would equate to ninety-thousand words (the average novel’s word-count) a month, or twelve titles a year.