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Canadians read more broadly in 2020, BookNet reports

Despite having an increase in leisure time in 2020 compared to the previous year, Canadians didn’t read more frequently in 2020, according to BookNet’s Canadian Leisure and Reading Study 2020. Canadians read more broadly across subjects in 2020, however, with a significant increase in nonfiction and YA titles.

A sizeable minority of those surveyed – 40 per cent – said they thought they had more leisure time in 2020 than in 2019. The frequency of reading did not increase to fill that extra leisure time, possibly because of “issues around attention span or difficulty staying focused, as mentioned by a few readers,” the study found. Difficulties getting books because of retail and library closures was another factor that could account for the lack of increase in reading despite an increase in leisure time, the study posits.

Roughly the same number of Canadians were reading at the same frequency in 2020 as in 2019, BookNet says, with 53% of those surveyed saying they read or listened to books at least weekly in 2020.

A difference in the reading habits can be seen in the types of books readers chose: in 2020, the number of readers choosing adult nonfiction titles jumped to 67 per cent, from 55 per cent in 2019. There was also an eight per cent increase in YA books from 2019, to 17 per cent.

The free study includes detailed information about how readers found books in 2020 and which format of books they prefer reading.

BookNet produces the Canadian Leisure and Reading Study annually to track the number of people reading and their reading behaviours in the previous year. This year’s study is based on a survey fielded in January 2021 to 1,253 Canadians over 18. The survey has a margin of error of three per cent.