Home » In 2023 the number of those who approach a book increases, but the frequency of reading decreases

In 2023 the number of those who approach a book increases, but the frequency of reading decreases

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In 2023 the number of those who approach a book increases, but the frequency of reading decreases

The number of Italians who read at least one book a year, or rather, at least part of a book a year, is increasing, but the frequency with which they continue reading is decreasing. In short, halfway positive news, because if on the one hand the absolute number of those who approach a paper volume, an e-book or an audiobook is growing (32.8 million people), on the other hand the percentage of those who dedicate themselves to it weekly (67%, compared to 72% the previous year).

The photograph of Italian readers in 2023 is taken by the survey by Pepe Research for the Italian Publishers Association (Aie), presented today at More Free Booksthe small and medium publishing fair underway until Sunday 10 December in Rome: among people aged between 15 and 74, this year – the study finds – 74% have read at least part of a book in one of the possible media (paper, audio, digital), a growth figure both compared to 2022 (71%) and compared to the pre-pandemic period (68%).

Young people at the Book Fair (@Alessandro Di Marco/Ansa)


«More than the number of readers, other elements that qualify the act of reading are becoming relevant – underlines, presenting the research, the head of the AIE research office Giovanni Peresson -. The percentage of readers who read at least once a week is decreasing and that of those who read only a few times a year is increasing, from 8 to 13%. A quarter of the sample (24%) declared that they had not read anything in the week preceding the survey and another 30% had done so for less than two hours. Therefore, more than half of Italians who declare themselves readers read less than two hours a week.

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The comics sector deserves a separate chapter: in this case the readers are 21% of the population but, compared to the average, they read more often (35% do it every day compared to 31% of the overall universe of readers) , use an e-reader (40% vs. 24%) and listen to audiobooks (29% vs. 16%). In general, a quarter of users of social platforms have enjoyed narrative content present on the same platforms or on other story-sharing platforms, i.e. 10.2 million Italians. Among these, 15% do not open books, e-books or audiobooks, which means that 3% of the population approaches narration outside of the book form, whether printed or digital.


It should be noted – they also noted during the data presentation meeting – that the reading rate of Italians released by the IEA (74%) differs profoundly from that of Istat (39.3% in 2022 of the population over six years old ). The explanation lies in how the question is asked. In fact, if Istat asks: «In the last 12 months have you read books (paperback, ebook, online books or audiobooks)? Consider only books read for reasons that are not strictly scholastic or professional”, the IEA, premised on the fact that the survey excludes compulsory forms of reading, asks: “Thinking about the last 12 months, have you happened to read, even only in part, a book of any genre, not only fiction (novel, mystery, comic, fantasy) but also an essay, a manual, a travel or cooking guide… on paper or in digital format such as an e-book, or listen to an audiobook?”.

«The fact emerges that there are very different criteria in evaluating a reader – comments Giuseppe Laterza -. For example, for Istat, a book read means everything has been read. For the IEA Research Office also in part. It’s not a small difference. Furthermore, some Istat data still does not include the reading of manuals, as if they were not real books. Therefore, we need to bring these data into coherence as a whole so that they are comparable not only with the past but also with other European countries. However – he concludes – there is a persistence of reading, especially among young people, and this in the age of TikTok is by no means a given. Let’s start telling ourselves that the glass is half full and let’s fill the other half.”

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