Two-fifths of UK adults are reading more since lockdown started, with many people changing their reading habits but not necessarily buying more books, according to research from Nielsen Book.
Online interviews with 1,000 people showed the UK as a whole has nearly doubled the amount of time it spends reading books from around 3.5 hours per week on average, to six.
Of consumers surveyed from 29th April to 1st May, 41% reported reading more books since the lockdown began. A third said they read more printed books, 18% consumed more e-books, and 9% listened to more audiobooks. A third of respondents said they had increased their time spent reading books to children.
However, only 25% said they had bought more books since the lockdown began, compared to their normal buying habits, while 18% had bought fewer.
Of those who were buying, one in eight consumers were purchasing more books from the online stores of physical book retailers such as Waterstones, W H Smith and indies. The leading influences on book choice were word of mouth, online browsing, online offers and reviews, and sticking with tried and tested authors.
Aside from shop closures, other popular reasons given for reading or buying fewer books included "doing other things instead" as well as lack of money or financial worries. Reasons given for reading and buying more books included increased spare time, a need for entertainment and as an escape from the coronavirus crisis.
The crisis also appears to be having an effect on the kind of books people want to read, with the survey showing little interest dystopian fiction or titles relating to the pandemic.
Two thirds of those reading books or listening to audiobooks said their fiction reading interests have changed since the outbreak, most commonly turning to crime and thrillers or popular fiction. The same proportion also indicated that their non-fiction book interests have changed towards more food/drink books, history, puzzle/quiz, gardening/DIY and genres to help improve mind, body and spirit.
Three-quarters of those who bought books for children said their habits had changed, with more interest in funny stories and titles that help with schoolwork.
For those with children in the home and buying books for them, three-quarters indicated that the genres they were interested in buying for children have changed since the outbreak of Covid-19, most commonly being more interested in funny stories and books to help with schoolwork.
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