Are people still reading physical books?

53% of UK adults say they have read a book in the last year, and the lockdown has led more of us to e-books and shopping online...
12 March 2021

Client Executive, Worldpanel Division

James Powell

Senior Marketing Manager, Media Division, UK & Ireland

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53% of UK adults say they have read a book in the last year, and it was most likely a physical book, according to Kantar data. 35% of those adults who read books are categorised as ‘heavy readers’ – that is, those who have read 10 or more books in the past year.*

Data from Kantar’s Worldpanel division shows that the market is looking healthy, with 2.3% growth year-on-year. The average book shopper in Great Britain spent £64.83 on books in the past year**, which is up from £64.15 last year. 40% of the adult population have purchased a book in the past 12 months.

Our panel data also shows that the average shopper has purchased 8 physical books each in the past year, compared to 9 the year before.

Who is reading what?

Data from our Media division highlights that there are differences in book preferences based on gender and age. Men are 40% more likely than the average book reader to read science fiction and more than twice as likely to read about sports, whilst women are 57% more likely to read romance novels and 25% more likely to read contemporary literature.

Those aged 15 to 24 are almost two-thirds likely to read fantasy and adventure books and 38% more likely to read science fiction. But those aged 65 or over are 46% more likely to read historical fiction, and 26% more likely to read crime and thriller books.

Who are the heavy readers?

The 35% of book-reading adults who are ‘heavy readers’ are 35% more likely than the average reader to b