15 Book Reading Statistics to Feed Your Mind in 2021

Book reading statistics conclusively show that due to the lockdowns in 2020 and the continuing trend of working from home, people have been reading more.

They’re spending their newfound free time with romance novels, cookbooks, and memoirs.

We did a deep dive into the most exciting facts and stats of the year to show you what sells best, the benefits of reading books, and to discover some fun facts about readers from around the globe!

Top 10 Statistics on Reading

  • Reading can reduce stress levels by a whopping 68%.
  • Reading 30 minutes a day may prolong your lifespan by two years.
  • The average reading speed is 238 words per minute (wpm).
  • Kids aged 6–8 read on average 19 books during the summer holidays.
  • 50-53% of kids aged 6–17 get books from school or public libraries.
  • Bill Gates reads 50 books a year.
  • Digital edition sales increased by 20.4% in 2020.
  • 51% of teenagers read for pleasure once a week.
  • Bread cookbooks sales increased by 145% during the pandemic.
  • 16% of romance novel readers are men.

Statistics About Reading and Readers

Reading is both enjoyable and useful. It has amazing benefits for our health and prosperity. Here’s an assortment of exciting reading trends and some interesting facts about the people who do it.

1. Reading can reduce stress levels by a whopping 68%.

(University of Minnesota)

When it comes to the benefits of reading, statistics show a high correlation to mental and emotional health. A study conducted by the University of Sussex showed that readers experience 68% less stress than non-readers.

These stats prove reading to be a more effective stress relief method than the typically recommended activities, such as taking a walk or listening to music.

2. Reading 30 minutes a day may prolong your lifespan by two years.

(World Economic Forum)

A chapter a day keeps the grim reaper away!

Perhaps one of the most impressive statistics about reading benefits is its effect on longevity. One study showed that readers literally live longer.

It also showed that specific cognitive processes, i.e., concentration, critical thinking, empathy, and emotional intelligence, are strengthened by reading books.

Reading stats also revealed that study participants who read for an average of 30 mins a day (about one chapter) had a survival advantage of two years on average compared to those who didn’t read books.

3. The average reading speed is 238 words per minute (wpm).

(Research Digest)

Up until 2019, reading speed statistics indicated that the average reading speed was 300wpm. However, newly published data shows this number to be considerably less.

Marc Brysbaert of Ghent University, Belgium, found that a more realistic average is 238wpm.

He discovered this while reviewing all previous reading rate studies measuring the reading speed of people aged 17-60 in languages using the Latin alphabet.

4. Maria Teresa Calderon, Ph.D., can read a whole book in roughly 20 minutes.

(Successness)

She reads at a rate of 80,000 words per minute at 100% comprehension.

For comparison, the average reader comprehends about 70% of what they read. Calderon is in the Guinness World Records and the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

5. Child reading statistics show that kids aged 6–8 read on average 19 books during the summer holidays.

(Scholastic)

However, summer reading statistics demonstrate a decline in older age groups. Children aged 15-17 only read two books during their summer holidays.

6. 50-53% of kids aged 6–17 get their books from school or public libraries.

(Scholastic)

This means that limited access in the summertime may account for the reduced reading rates in older children.

Moreover, general book reading statistics indicate that older children read lengthier tomes. So, even though they read fewer books, their total page count is likely the same or greater than that of the younger readers.

7. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year.

(Blinkist Magazine)

Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg reads a book every two weeks.

When you examine the habits of successful people and the statistics about reading and success, you’ll notice some apparent trends. They include daily focus of goals and maintaining regular to-do lists.

Finally, when asked how he built his rockets, Elon Musk answered “I read books.”

8. 88% of the rich prefer self-improvement books over reading for entertainment.

(Business Insider)

There’s a distinct difference in the reading material preferred by the rich and the poor.

Corley’s statistics on reading and success show that 88% of the wealthy class prefer self-improvement books and read them for 30 minutes a day.

On the other hand, only 2% of poor people do the same. Instead, they prefer magazines, novels, and tabloids.

9. Online reading statistics show that 7% of the US adults read ebooks exclusively.

(Pew Research)

Digital formats have certainly gained lots of popularity over the last couple of years. However, most Americans still prefer print books.

According to the stats about reading, 37% of US adults read only print books compared to 7% who only read online.

Moreover, 28% read both print and ebooks while 27% of American adults don’t read at all.

Eye-Opening Reading Statistics from 2020

Now that 2020 is over, we’ve gained some valuable hindsight. Check out these revealing trends about the world of bookworms in the pandemic era.

10. Digital edition sales increased by 20.4% in 2020.

(Goodereader)

Reading rates soared in 2020 due to everyone spending more time at home because of mass quarantines. For the same reason, print book sales plummeted as book stores were closed.

Moreover, book reading statistics for 2021 reveal that digital editions (ebooks and digital audiobooks) saw a 20.4% increase in revenue between Oct 2019-Oct 2020.

In the first ten months of the year, ebook generated $956.3 million in sales, and revenue from digital audiobooks reached $553.6 million.

11. Children reading statistics reveal an 80% increase in school ebook use.

(OverDrive Education)

Statistics on e-learning exposed increasingly digitized schooling trends. Compared to 2019, 80% more schools enable their students to borrow ebooks and audiobooks.

Having in mind that educational apps were the third most popular category in 2020, it doesn’t surprise that the student reading app Sora is one of the most popular choices.

Thirty-eight thousand schools across 71 countries reportedly use it. In 2020, the number of books borrowed through the app was nearly triple compared to 2019.

12. Teenage reading statistics reveal that 51% of teenagers read for pleasure once a week.

(ALJ)

In 2020, there was an emerging reading trend among teenagers. A survey revealed that more than half of teenagers read for pleasure at least once a week.

These book reading statistics reflect their habits outside of required school reading.

13. Bread cookbooks sales increased by 145% during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

(NPD Group)

Stats on reading reveal that in the first nine months of 2020, bread baking cookbooks sold 200,000 more print copies in the US than they did in all of 2019.

14. 16% of romance novel readers are men.

(Mental Floss)

Romance rules! 2020 was the year of romance in reading, even though (or perhaps because) it was a year of dystopian horror. Romance novels comprised one-third of all the mass-market fiction that sold last year.

Moreover, reader demographics by genre show that it’s not just a ladies’ market: 16% of romance readers are men. Nor is it just a youthful phase, as the average age of romance readers, regardless of gender, is 42.

15. With $1.44 billion in sales, romance and erotica were the most popular subgenres in 2020.

(Book Ad Report)

According to the most popular book genre statistics for the year, romance and erotica were the absolute champions in 2020.

Americans — the biggest consumers in the world, contributed $1.44 billion to the two genres.

In second place were the crime and mystery subgenres, with a revenue of $728.2 million.

Religious and inspirational books took third place, selling $720 million’s worth. Science fiction and fantasy fiction fell to fourth place, with a market value of $590.2 million.

Landing in at a solid fifth place was the horror genre, which sold $79.6 million worth of books.

FAQ

How many books does the average person read in a year?

The average number of books read by the typical American in a year is 12. However, the typical median American has read only four books in the past year.

How many minutes a day should you read to your child?

For toddlers and preschoolers, five or six minutes a day is enough. Don’t try to force a more extended session with restless children; the point is to teach them to enjoy reading.

Moreover, 20 minutes a day should suffice for kindergarteners, according to facts about reading to your child.

It’s crucial to establish a reading routine and do it roughly the same time each day — like before bed or after lunch.

Reading statistics reveal that first graders should read up to 30 minutes a day. Once they’re reading independently, dedicate some time to listen and take turns reading out loud.

For second or third-graders, you can read chapter books aloud to inspire the mental imagery of your reading.

What age group reads the most?

In 2020, the Library Journal conducted a survey of 2,232 readers across five generations. In general, the oldest age group (the retirees of the Silent Generation) read for pleasure the most since they have the most time.

Gen Z reads for pleasure the least, but they do lots of required reading for high school, college, or work. Millennials read 48% more than they did three years ago.

Which country reads the most books?

According to the most recent book reading statistics by country, India is at the top of the chart with over ten hours of reading per week. Thailand and China follow with more than nine and eight weekly hours of reading.

The Philippines and Egypt are also in the top five with seven and a half weekly hours of reading.

What was the most sold book in the world in 2020?

A Time for Mercy by John Grisham was the most popular hardcover fiction book. In the nonfiction hardcover genre, former president’s Barack Obama’s book A Promised Land took the cake.

Home Body by Rupi Kapur and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer were number one in paperback fiction and nonfiction.

Conclusion

Moreover, statistics about reading benefits show a link to longer life, less stress, and better chances at success and wealth.

Moreover, 50-53% of children and teens are reading more than before. Digital books are more widely accessible. In a fun twist, romance and bread baking are vying for the top spot!

2020 provided us with some optimistic book reading statistics. That’s plenty of motivation to pick up a new title this year!

Sources

Doroteja is a content creator and language play enthusiast with a penchant for noticing links between seemingly unrelated ideas. She puts this observational quirk to use in her career as a content writer, researching and writing compelling articles and blog posts about education, health, fitness, ecommerce, pets, and science. When not working, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, exploring different types of coffee, and trying to make puns work in different languages.

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