While scrolling through the great depths of the interwebs, we stumbled across this article on Mental Floss about American reading habits. It cites statistics from this study by the PEW Research Centre claiming slightly fewer Americans are reading in their leisure time than past years.
We may or may not have discovered this article fresh off the Jays' defeat at the hands of Kansas City, and our fierce competitive spirit wasn't ready to be extinguished just yet (okay, we were a little salty, we admit it). Maybe there was still a way we could recover our national pride? In the spirit of a little healthy competition between book-loving countries, we wanted to see how Canadian reading habits stacked up to our neighbours to the south, so we brushed off BookNet's own Canadian Leisure Time Study to do a quick comparison.
To start, we quickly discovered that the methodologies behind the two surveys were a bit different: we conducted our survey online, while PEW engaged respondents by phone. While it might seem that the method of collecting data shouldn't really impact the results that much, it can skew the data slightly. Think of it like comparing apples to a different kind of apples—close but not quite.
Of those surveyed, 72% of Americans said they'd read a book in the past year, while 84% of Canadians said the same. When those who answered "yes" were broken down by age, we discovered that millennials across North America are doing a lot of reading. In both countries, those in the 18-29 age bracket make up the highest percentage of those who had read a book that year. While American reader numbers dip significantly in other age brackets, at least 80% of Canadians reported reading a book for all age brackets, except those aged 50-64—the age group with the lowest reader numbers in both countries.
The print book remains king in North America. When reaching for a book to enjoy, 77% of Canadians and 69% of Americans read at least one tactile print book in the past year. Canadians appear to be more fond of exploring other book formats than our neighbours to the south, however: 47% of respondents reported having read an ebook, and 23% said they enjoyed an audiobook that year.
While we can't draw any definite conclusions from this exercise, it sure was fun to look at (not to mention it made us feel great). As another Mental Floss article points out, neither Canada nor the US can claim to be the country with the most avid readers in the world (high five, India!), but maybe we should consider setting up national reading teams now that baseball season has come to a close? It could be like Mathletes, but nerdier.