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Health crisis, lack of time … Reading is declining among the French

Reading is declining among the French, with 14% of them who have not read any books in 2020, and 25% who have not bought a new one, according to a study published Tuesday by the National Book Center. “Despite reassuring market dynamics for the book sector, we are seeing an overall decline in the number of readers”, commented in a press release the president of this public establishment, Régine Hatchondo. The CNL deplores “a drop in reading, certainly linked to the constraints imposed by the health crisis”.

The study is carried out every two years by the Ipsos institute, and its results traditionally published before the opening of the Livre Paris fair. But this event was canceled for the second year in a row due to the Covid-19 epidemic. According to the survey carried out in January among 1,000 people aged 15 and over, 86% of French people have read at least one book in 2020, or 8 points less than in 2018.

The health crisis would be “unfavorable” to reading

“The French probably wanted to better understand the world and to decipher the crisis we went through: they read more books of reports and news (essays, biographies …), but fewer novels (-7 points) and practical books (-7 points) “, according to the National Book Center.

“The decline in reading is on the trend: it has been observed for about ten years, especially among young people. So it is not linked only to the health crisis,” said Régine Hatchondo, presenting the results of the online survey. But the year 2020 was very special, with “the rise of so-called utilitarian books (…) to the detriment of the pleasure book”, she added.

The survey revealed unfavorable conditions for reading, according to Ipsos, with “the contraction of time” which can easily be devoted to it (public transport, bedtime), the increase in the time devoted to household chores. , especially for women who are the greatest readers, or even a “blurring of the border between private and professional life”.

51% of French people blame the “lack of time”

Respondents are 75% (-7 points) to have bought at least one new book, 34% (-7 points) to have bought used, and 68% (-9 points) to have been loaned or to offer. Their preferred point of sale remains the bookstore (80% of buyers), ahead of specialized supermarkets (67%), internet (39%) and supermarkets or hypermarkets (39%). Similarly, 83% of respondents have read at least one print book, of which only about a quarter have also read at least one digital book. Only 3% of respondents read exclusively digitally.

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The French are not losing interest in books, on the contrary: they often declare that they would like to read more, being 51% to cite as a brake the “lack of time” and 37% “competition from other leisure activities”. “If they had an extra day in the week to devote to their leisure activities, reading would be in second place of the activities they would favor, after outings with friends,” noted Régine Hatchondo. They are respectively 13 and 31% to say so.

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