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Old 07-29-2017, 02:27 AM   #1
GeoffR
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2017 survey on book reading in New Zealand

The survey was conducted by Horizon Research for the New Zealand Book Council.
Sample size: 2082 adults, margin of error: +/-2.1%

In the 12 months to March 2017:

Overall:
* 88% of adults read a book.
* Average 20.6 books per year(*).

Fiction:
* Crime/Thriller most popular fiction genre.
* Read in: 74% print / 23% ebook / 3% audio.
* 42% of fiction purchased online.

Non-fiction:
* Biography/Autobiography most popular non-fiction genre.
* Read in: 75% print / 19% ebook / 5% audio.
* 40% of non-fiction purchased online.

Report (PDF)

Appendices (PDF, large)


(*) The survey asked: During the past 12 months, about how many books did you read either all or part of the way through?, but the highest possible answer was More than 40, so maybe the average of 20.6 is understated and some other results biased towards the behaviour of low-volume readers?
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Old 07-29-2017, 03:30 AM   #2
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I wonder if such a survey is not inherently biased. Are people who do read books not much more likely to agree to participate in a survey about reading than those who don't? 88% of adults reading an average of 20 books a year each seems astonishingly high.
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Old 07-29-2017, 03:52 AM   #3
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If this is true, I certainly doff my cap to the citizens of New Zealand!
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I wonder if such a survey is not inherently biased. Are people who do read books not much more likely to agree to participate in a survey about reading than those who don't? 88% of adults reading an average of 20 books a year each seems astonishingly high.
One way to check the plausibility of the survey results is to compare with other sources. I had a look at the public library statistics to see how many books were borrowed each year, and although I couldn't find out the proportion of adult vs. childrens' books, from what I can tell the totals are not inconsistent with the survey results.

The survey result of 20.6 read books per adult is calculated as 57,854,100 books read by 2,804,900 adults. (Appendix 2, page 5. 2,804,900 being 88% of the adult population.)

The report says that 29% of 34,656,500 (~10,000,000) fiction books (page 11) and 30% of 19,438,700 (~5,800,000) non-fiction books (page 13) read by adults were borrowed from a public library, so if a similar proportion of the 3,758,900 poetry books read were borrowed (~1,200,000 say) then the public librarys need to account for about 17,000,000 books that the survey says were read.

According to Public Libraries of New Zealand statistics for the 2015/2016 year, there were 35,214,362 loans to public library users.

So the survey results regards library borrowing seem plausible to me (they could even be understated.) Perhaps the other results are plausible too.
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Old 07-29-2017, 08:12 AM   #5
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Well, if the figures are anywhere near accurate, it's excellent news. I'm sure the equivalent figures for the UK wouldn't even approach that!
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Old 07-29-2017, 09:32 AM   #6
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Something is off about those results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffR View Post
88% of adults read a book.
Actually it is "read or started to read at least one book". That is a much lower hurdle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffR View Post
Average 20.6 books per year(*).
One thing I noticed is that it is the average of those who read at least one book, not average for the total population. Still, that number seems unbelievably high to me. Perhaps the survey shows that people lie about how much they actually read.

The breakdown of average books per reader is odd: 13.7 fiction books, 4.4 poetry books, and 8.0 non-fiction. I am guessing that this is the average for those that read that particular type of book. Still, odd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffR View Post
According to Public Libraries of New Zealand statistics for the 2015/2016 year, there were 35,214,362 loans to public library users.
The number of loans does not specify the type of item being loaned, but let's assume books. The same spreadsheet shows the total collection across all libraries as 8,362,219 books. So every book had to be leant out over four times on average. I can see that for popular books, but every book in every library? I suspect that the total number of loans includes other items, such as videos.

Last edited by jhowell; 07-29-2017 at 10:09 AM. Reason: correction
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:40 AM   #7
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Good for you! I think this US is well below 50%. Sigh
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Old 07-29-2017, 11:07 AM   #8
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Good for you! I think this US is well below 50%. Sigh
I think your figure is way off. You are being very generous. I think I saw below 25%.
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:13 PM   #9
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* Average 20.6 books per year(*).
While I would certainly like this to be true, I have a very, very hard time believing that it is...
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Old 07-29-2017, 06:56 PM   #10
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I wonder if such a survey is not inherently biased.
It is very biased.

Those surveyed are predominantly those who [whose DELETED] voluntarily sign up on line as Horizon Research's panel members to take part in Horizon Research surveys. Those who participate by completing a survey questionnaire go into a draw to win a significant cash and goods prize.

I wouldn't give the survey any credibility at all. That said it is known that book reading participation in NZ is high.

Last edited by AnotherCat; 07-29-2017 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 07-30-2017, 01:01 AM   #11
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Cultural prticipation statistics from the EU might give some grounds for comparison.

Although 88% "reading or started to read a book" in New Zealand is at the high end, it doesn't seem too out of line when compared to 83% in Sweden or 82% in Luxembourg who met the stricter test of "reading at least one book as a leisure activity".
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Old 07-30-2017, 02:37 AM   #12
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A better comparison might be this Australian survey carried out in October 2016 by Roy Morgan Research for the Australian Research Council and Macquarie University.

It found that only 8% of Australians 14+ had "not read all or part of a print book, ebook or audio book for pleasure or interest in the last twelve months"

So that is 92% of Australians 14+ who had read or started to read a book for pleasure or interst in the last 12 months, to put it in similar terms to the New Zealand survey result.

Summary (PDF)

Full report (PDF)
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Old 07-30-2017, 09:32 AM   #13
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I can't help but wonder how many people lie on a survey like this?
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:17 AM   #14
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Oh wait. It isn't 88% reading books. It is 88% have started a book. That makes more sense.
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:08 PM   #15
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Oh wait. It isn't 88% reading books. It is 88% have started a book. That makes more sense.
Yes, the way the question was asked it will get a positive response from most.

The question asked was Q1. During the past 12 months, about how many books did you read either all or part of the way through?

So that could get a positive response from someone who happened to pick a book and read the first page while waiting in a bookshop for service to buy a pen refill.

Or, reading a couple of pages of preview on Amazon.

Or, bored stiff in an airport terminal waiting hours for a connection, never reads books but wanders dazedly into the airport bookshop and picks up a book to browse with no intention of buying or ever reading.

Etc.

I could respond to the question and guess at 300 being the number of books I have "read" some, albeit little, of in the last year (I have no idea of how many but it is a lot). But I have not read properly that many.

The survey is flawed in a number of ways, but most seriously in the way I posted earlier. Also, the organization that commissioned it seems to me to live in some irrational dreamy fantasy land dislocated from reality; one typical indicator of that in their website is their almost exclusive use of Aotearoa instead of New Zealand when referring to the country (Aotearoa is the current Maori language name for NZ and is typically only used in such of by Government departments (and some other organizations) in a byline to New Zealand in their English name, in Maori business names, documents specifically addressed to Maori, as recognition of Te Reo during Maori language week, or by exaggeratedly PC fluffy speaking charitable or self interested organizations.

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