Are Canadians spending their leisure time reading?

[Find updated statistics for 2018 here]

How do Canadians fill their leisure time? With reading, we hope. At Tech Forum 2016, BookNet's Tim Middleton presented some of the findings gathered from a leisure time survey conducted this February, focusing specifically on Canadians who selected reading as one of their top two preferred past-times and what sort of insights we could gain from them.

But first, let's look at the top leisure activities for Canadians:

Time spent on the internet dropped 4.8% since 2015, though it's still #1, while time watching TV is seeing its renaissance: after dropping from 30% to 29% in 2015, it has resurged to 33.6% in 2016. As for reading? It's sitting modestly at #4 in the roster of preferred leisure activities at 21.6%, followed by watching a movie (18.4%) to round out the top five.

When we look at those who selected reading in their top two preferred activities, we find that 73% of respondents identified as women and 27% as men. Women between the ages of 35 and 54 are the most avid leisure time readers.

While reading dipped slightly overall in 2016, when broken down by format, we see that print was down 2% from 2015, ebooks were down 4%, and audio was also down 2%.

Interestingly, organized book clubs remain unpopular in Canada; 70% of respondents said they rarely or never participate in a book club or reading group, a number which increased by 6% since last year.

We've also found that Canadians are talking about books online less, visiting social media sites less frequently, and shopping in brick-and-mortar bookstores more. In fact, the brick-and-mortar bookstore remains the most popular choice for acquiring print materials among those that read a print book last year. Meanwhile, ebooks and audiobooks are both seeing a bump in readers acquiring their books from libraries and online subscription services. 

One of the most interesting insights to come out of Tim's presentation is the power of data to put together reader profiles. Through the leisure time survey, Tim was able to compile incredibly detailed snapshots of demographics that can be assigned to different types of readers:

  • The daily reader (reads between 1 and 3 hours a day)

  • The hybrid book reader (reads both print and digital)

  • The digital reader (prefers ebooks)

Watch for them at the end of the video:

Check out the other Tech Forum and ebookcraft videos for more in-depth data crunching, or listen to the highlights of the conference on our podcast