The Ultimate Guide to Global Reading Habits (Infographic)

Posted 12 May 2017, by

Brendan Brown

Reading is an activity that enriches our lives. As well as providing access to huge amounts of information and knowledge, we read for entertainment. Good stories provide an escape where your imagination can lift you away.

When we read, not only are we improving our working memory, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive too.

Science has shown that reading has some amazing health benefits, including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

Global English Editing has created an infographic of world reading habits – how much we read, what we read, and where reading is taking place.

The biggest selling book in history is Don Quixote, a story which has captured the imagination of millions worldwide.

While countries such as India, Thailand, and China spend the most hours reading per week, they are not the most “literate” countries in terms of having access to a generous number of libraries, newspapers, and computers. In that regard, Finland, Norway, and Iceland are world beaters.

Although paper books have been selling well since the invention of the printing press, e-books are growing in popularity and are projected to outsell paper books by 2018.

These are just some of the fascinating facts about world reading habits found in the infographic below.

Reading can give us a lifetime of pleasure. There are so many fascinating books out there, that we can safely say that there will never be a shortage of things to read.

What would the world be like without books? Those of us who read shudder at the thought. But people who are illiterate essentially live in a world where books have no meaning for them. Not only do illiterate people miss out on cultural perks such as best sellers and the classics, but their socioeconomic status and health are also affected.

There is a positive correlation between a country’s literacy rate and its standard of living because wealthier countries can afford to provide its citizens with education, health care, and technology.

Literacy rate is defined as the percentage of people over the age of 15 that can read and write. The ability to read and write is affected by access to education, libraries, and computers. Countries that have been found to read the most are India, Thailand, and China.

However, according to statistical information of 2016 which took into account the number of libraries, newspapers, years of education, and access to computers, the most literate countries are Finland, Norway, and Iceland. The United States ranked 7th in the world.

When it comes to best selling books worldwide, Don Quixote is the most popular, and has sold over 500 million copies. Various books of the Harry Potter series make their appearances in the best selling list, making them some of the most profitable books in the world. In fact, the script-book of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sold 2 million copies in the first two days, and was a U.S. best seller in 2016.

If you are an author with a potential best seller in the works, you have the option to consult for professional book editor which can improve your manuscript.

What are the reading habits of the United States? In 2015, the average American adult read 12 books. But 27 percent of American adults did not read even a single book within the last year.

Ironically, this compares with the amount of reading done by the Vietnamese, a country with a considerably lower standard of living. In Vietnam, 26% of the population did not read, and only 30 percent read on a regular basis.

The American cities that were found to be the most busy reading books are Seattle, Portland, and Washington, D.C. Most Americans like to read print books.

In the United Kingdom, a whopping 80% of Britons had read a book in the last year, slightly outdoing the Germans by 1%. Of the French, 73% had read a book in the last year, while the Italians only had 56% of their population reading during the same time. The average number of books read for pleasure by adults in the United Kingdom is approximately 10 each year, which is much higher than the figure for the Chinese.

In Asia, 79% of the Japanese had read a print book in the last year. The statistics show that the Chinese read an average of 4.56 books per year. The adult literacy rate in China was 96.36% in 2015, while the literacy rate of Japan in 2004 was 99%.

The best selling book in Japan is the heroic fantasy novel  series, Guin Saga, about an amnesiac warrior who wears a leopard mask. The best selling book in China in 2015 was an adult coloring book called Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.

Secret Garden has been popular in the United States too. There was an increasing trend in the sales of adult coloring books in 2015. People flocked to buy coloring books because they can decrease anxiety, and possibly bring on a meditative state in the person doing the coloring.

E-book sales increased between 2008 and 2015, from $270 million in revenue to more than $5 billion. Yet in both the United States and the United Kingdom, sales of e-books decreased in 2016. In the United States, the Association of American Publishers found that e-book sales fell by 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016.

In contrast, sales of paperback books rose to 7.5% during the same time, and hardback book sales increased by 4.1%. Perhaps “screen fatigue” is catching up, and people want a break from their e-readers. Print books can be a lot easier to navigate, and their tactile appeal cannot be reproduced by reading an e-book.

In fact, the use of electronic readers before bedtime has been shown to disrupt sleep and negatively affect circadian rhythm patterns. Students staying up late at night trying to work out their PhD dissertation or thesis may want to get some professional assistance with dissertation editing or thesis editing.

There is big business in books. Book publishing has an estimated value of $151 billion U.S., which is a bigger business than film and entertainment, magazines, video games, and music.

This information is not surprising at all, because life is certainly better with books!

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