Canadian Readers by the Numbers

As part of BookNet’s research into the Canadian book buyer, we have been running a small survey of Canadians’ reading and leisure habits over the last 3 years. This is a survey we conduct in January/February each year. Where our book-buying research is focused on book buyers, this research is meant to focus more on how Canadians spend their leisure time and, more specifically, on how and when they are reading books (in any format). As has been the case with book buyers, Canadians’ reading habits are also changing.

Leisure Time

The respondents in our surveys are watching TV more and reading books less over the last three years. (Click any image to enlarge)

Q: Which leisure activities would you say are your top 2 choices for spending your free time? (Check two) (n=750)

Canadians Who Read a Book Last Year

88% of our respondents read a book last year. For comparison, a Pew Research Center report on Reading in America in 2013 showed that 76% of Americans read a book last year. The Pew report was a phone-based report, so the methodologies are a little different, but the numbers of respondents are similar. 

Q: Did you read a book in the last year?  (n=750)

Format Breakdown

Of those respondents who told us they read a book last year, 93% said they read a print book, 27% said they listened to an audio book, and 58% said they read an ebook.  

Q: Did you read a print/digital/audio book in the last year? (n=661)


It should come as no surprise that ebooks are mostly acquired online (67%) and that print books are mostly acquired in physical stores (45%), but it is interesting that readers acquire their ebooks (18%) and print books (20%) at about the same level from the library.

Q: How did you acquire most of your print/digital books? (n=612(print), 384(ebook))


Canadian readers (especially those that answer online surveys) are big owners of mobile devices capable of reading books on, with only 13% not owning a reading-capable mobile device. Ebook readers seem to be evenly split between tablets and ereaders as their primary reading device. We also asked readers what devices they were planning on purchasing over the next 12 months: tablets (40%) were more than twice as likely to be puchased than dedicated ereader devices (16%).

Q: Which devices do you currently own? (Check all that apply) (n=750)

Q: What type of device do you primarily read your ebooks on? (n=384)

Interested in more data on Canadian reading habits or book-buying behaviour? You can check out our current studies here.

We will be releasing our 2013 Canadian Book Consumer studies later this spring. Sign up for our eNews to be notified when they are released.

Some notes on methodology:

- Online survey. This means we may have some survey bias towards internet users.

- 750 English-speaking Canadians.

- Respondents are compensated for their time.