Monday, 22 June 2009

Reading and Realism

From a Retired Publisher, in the Bookseller:
When I was a young rep in the mid 70's my sales manager told me that only 4% of the population of the UK ever went into a bookshop.


Eric Dickens said...

Only 4%, eh? Well, that's life. I still prefer translating postmodernist Estonian novels for the minority to translating crime fiction for the 90% of the 4%.

What would be interesting to know, on a scale of philistinism, is whether British people are better, worse, or about the same in this respect when compared with other large countries in Europe such as France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain, etc. Small countries tend to write and read more, to keep the language and culture alive. But big ones would be a fair comparison.

David McDuff said...

This 2007 U.S. study quotes a survey that gives the overall book reading rate in 15 European countries as 45 percent of the population (among readers of 15 or older) - but this refers to reading of any kind of book, not just literary works. The highest European reading rates are given as 72 percent in Sweden, 66 percent in Finland, and 63 percent in the United Kingdom, with the lowest rates being found in Belgium (23 percent) and Portugal (15 percent).

The U.K. comes out of the study quite well: in a survey of those who read eight or more books during the year, the U.K. shows 52 percent as compared to an average European figure of 37 percent and a low of 15 percent in Portugal.