The reading habits of Canadians

[To read our updated statistics for 2018, click here.]

Last week, we looked at how Canadians are spending their leisure time. This week we're going to dive deeper into the results of our survey — specifically the reading habits of the respondents who said they had read a book in the last year.

Every winter BookNet runs a survey to see how Canadians are spending their leisure time. In 2017, we asked 750 respondents some general questions on the subject but the focus was on their book-reading and -listening habits.

Read on to learn about the library usage of Canadian readers, their favourite formats, how they discover their books, and more. 

Library usage

Of those respondents who had read a book in the last year, 46% of them told us that they had also checked out a book (in any format: ebook, print, audio) from the library. This number is about the same as the previous year.

35% of readers say they participate in a book/reading club

What formats do readers prefer?

Of the respondents in our survey who said they had read a book in the past year, 90% of them had read a print book, the same percentage as in 2016. The number who had listened to an audiobook (26%) was up slightly over 2016, while the number of people who had read an ebook (48%) has been down slightly, year over year.

Formats read by age bracket

There are more readers between the ages of 18 and 44 who listened to an audiobook last year than those who read a print book or those who read an ebook. The reading habits of 45- to 54-year-olds, meanwhile, are distributed more evenly over the formats – with print books bringing up the rear. Readers who are 55+ tend to favour print books over ebooks and do much less listening of audiobooks.

What devices are Canadians using for digital reading?

If you're reading an ebook, you need a device. Canadian readers continue to consume ebooks on their computers at the same rate as the previous year (20%) while 38% are using tablets, which is up a very slight 3% from the year before.

Canadian readers are showing an increased preference for smartphones, however. The use of smartphones for ebook reading has increased by more than 6% over the last year to 20%. This has mostly been at the expense of e-readers (23%), which is down by 5% since last year.

How do you generally discover the books/ebooks/audiobooks that you read/buy?

Half of Canadian readers, 50% to be exact, discover the books they read or buy from word of mouth — the holy grail for book publishers everywhere. An equal number of readers discover books by browsing online (38%) or in a physical store (38%). Social media and public libraries both come in at 30% for how readers discover their next read. 

The rest of the discovery channels broken down as follows: online communities like Goodreads, 21%; print news or magazines, 13%; e-reading apps, 11%; radio or television, 10%; and "none of the above" came in at 8%. 

75% read book reviews either online or in print

Online habits of readers

The majority of readers, 91%, participate in social media. Over half of readers (55%) say they participate in an online book community/social media and 50% say they discuss books they have read online.