How Did World Reading Habits Change in 2020 Because of COVID-19?

Children reading

Written by Frankie Cameron

Did global reading habits change in 2020? The COVID-19 quarantine allowed people more time at home and more time to kill. People spent their extra time learning new skills, playing games, building puzzles, making crafts, but most book lovers caught up on their reading. Did you read more?

People enjoying reading

Image created in Canva

Global English Editing created an in-depth graphic of reading habits during 2020, which I found fascinating. Did you know that in 1820 only 12% of the world’s population could read? Fast forward 200 years and 86% of the world can read. Although there is a 7% gender discrepancy towards males.

Note: all statistics in this section are from the Global English Editing graphic posted below. Please take the time to check out the graphic and the data they have collected, you won’t be sorry.

Reading Habits by Country

Canadians rank 20th on the list of countries that read the most. On average, Canadians spend 5:48 hours reading each week. India ranks the highest at 10:42 hours, followed by Thailand at 9:24 hours, and China at 8:00 hours. The United States came in 22nd at 5:42 hours per person.

Reading Habits by Book Type

In 2020, hardcover books sold the best at 37.5%, softcover at 32.6%, eBooks at 10.4%, and audio books at 7.3%. Other came in at 12.2% comprising board books and mass-market books. Looking at this data, it is staggering to see printed books with over seventy percent of the market in this digital age.

Reading Habits by Genre

There was an increase in dystopia and post-apocalyptic book sales because of the COVID-19 virus. One-third of mass-market books belonged to the romance genre, and 16% of romance readers are male.

Reading Habits by Generation

Gen Z (6 to 24 years of age) read more in 2020 at 34%, followed by Millennials (25 to 40 years of age) at 40%, Gen X (41 to 56 years of age) at 31% and baby boomers at 28% (57 to 75 years of age).

Most Published Books by Country

China published 440,000 books in 2020, followed by the United States at 304,912 and the UK at 184,000. Japan, Russia, Germany and Russia round out the top seven.

Changing Habits Because of COVID-19

Globally 35% of Internet users read more because of the COVID-19 virus in 2020 and 14% read significantly more. China, Spain, Italy, Brazil and the Philippines recorded the highest increase in reading consumption.

The sales of educational books rose significantly, with 90% of the world population switching to homeschooling. In the UK, the sale of educational books rose by 234%.

Benefits of Reading

Global English Editing spells out some benefits of reading as stress reduction, increased analytical skills, enhanced memory and concentration, improved vocabulary. It also decreases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Graphic copyright Global English Editing

Canadian Reading Habits

According to Booknet Canada, from March 2019 to June 2020 Canadians chose print books over all other book types:

  • print books (60%)
  • eBooks (25%)
  • graphic novels, manga or comics (12%)
  • digital audio books (8%)
  • physical audiobooks (6%)

Most Canadians read to:

  • relax (75%)
  • pass the time (57%)
  • gain knowledge (40%)
  • become immersed in a story (37%)
  • learn something new (33%)
  • be challenged (28%)
  • be motivated (26%)

A fascinating fact is that 97% of Canadian readers prefer to read books by authors they have read before, probably because of expectations. If I have read an author and loved their work, I don’t even need to read the back cover to buy the book.

Final Thoughts

I hope you took the time to check out the graphic by Global English Editing. Did any of the statistics in the graphic surprise you? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time



Feature image created in Canva.

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