Girl reading book on coffee table with a cup of coffee

A shocking 11% of the British public won’t read another book in their lifetime.

And yet, 56% of people who currently don’t read very much would like to in the future. With bookshops and libraries closing down, how can we encourage the public to read more and therefore sustain our bookshops and libraries?

 

We can start by looking at the reasons people won’t read another book.

11% of people won't read another book - graph that shows data

Nearly a quarter of the people involved in the poll said that they didn’t have enough time to read. As someone with a very busy life, I can understand this one. I am currently doing an internship 5 days a week, as well as running my business, as well as renovating my new house, and planning a wedding for next year. I completely understand ‘busy’.

But I always read for 30 minutes before bed. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child, and so it’s built into my natural routine.

I’ve always found it difficult to understand when people say they don’t like reading, but apparently 19% of Britain don’t. I often think to myself, you obviously haven’t found the right book. You don’t have to read what’s being sold in Waterstones.

Read some non-fiction. If you like trains, read a book about trains in the 20th century. Perhaps you’d prefer a graphic or comic novel, full of cartoons and pictures to accompany the text. Feel free to get in touch if you’re a non-reader who really dislikes it. I’d like to know why you hate it!

The report claimed: “The main reasons [for not reading] are the pressures of contemporary life – 23% of them don’t have enough time, 18% are too busy – which at least suggests that literature might become a possibility for them if their circumstances change.

“For others, the reasons seem more intransigent: 15% have other hobbies and 19% simply do not like reading.”

2% of respondents couldn’t name one single writer or author – surely everyone has heard of William Shakespeare?! – and 18% said that they didn’t know, weren’t sure or couldn’t remember a name.

That is a total of 20% who couldn’t name a writer.

 

The Good News

There is of course plenty of good news throughout the report.

  • Three quarters of the population have read some form of literature in the last month.
  • 88% believed that literature should be a part of everyone’s education.
  • 67% believe that literature helps to reduce stress
  • 81% said that literature helps people sympathise with others.

 

So how to encourage people

This second chart demonstrates the reasons people have given for how to increase the number of readers in the UK.

It is surprising that recommendations come first. Talk to any member of a book club, or any member of staff in Waterstones or WHSmith and I’m sure they’ll give you a list the length of your arm.

The cost of books seems to be an issue. People think that books are too expensive. But an author needs to make a living, and their average wage has come down to £11,000 a year. For this reason book prices cannot change, but our libraries are still available for free.

 

Have your say and get involved on Twitter using the hashtag #LiteratureMatters

To see the full report, visit the Royal Society of Literature’s website.

 

11% of people won’t read another book
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