442,600 adult New Zealanders didn’t read a book in the past year, according to new research published by the New Zealand Book Council.

Only 86% of New Zealand adults had read or started to read at least one book in the past year, down from 88% last year.

Only? Plenty of countries would be ecstatic to get that much interest in books.

Book Reading in New Zealand, a report from Horizon Research Limited, commissioned by the New Zealand Book Council, suggests women respondents’ reading habits hadn’t changed, but men were reading a little less.

But, in keeping with a similar report in 2017, the study found most New Zealanders are reading for pleasure, with crime, thriller and adventure the favoured genres.

Books by New Zealand authors are popular, with 57% of respondents reading books by New Zealand authors or poets in the past year. Poetry performs surprisingly well, with 30% saying they had read poetry.

Public libraries remain popular places to get books.

But the New Zealand Book Council is not satisfied with 86% of New Zealanders picking up a book. Said Book Council CEO Jo Cribb,

We take these findings seriously and will use them to inform our programmes and projects.

It’s wonderful that New Zealanders love to read and to see that books remain an important touchstone in our society. But it’s worrying to see how many of us didn’t pick up a book in the past year.

The survey makes no reference to what format New Zealanders are reading in, or where readers are buying books from, other than using public libraries, nor is there any indication of the publishing origins of books bought (traditionally published or self-published).

The survey does not cover children’s books.

New Zealand has a population of just 4.6 million, but with 88.7% internet penetration that’s over 4 million New Zealanders online that could be reading digitally, but only Apple, Google Play and Kobo have a localised ebook presence in New Zealand. Amazon sends New Zealand ebook buyers to the US or Australian Kindle stores.

Follow the New Zealand Book Council on twitter: @nzbookcouncil

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