NZ women voracious readers, finds survey

By Amelia Wade

Men lag behind as Kiwis still prefer traditional hard-copy books to ebooks. Photo / Thinkstock
Men lag behind as Kiwis still prefer traditional hard-copy books to ebooks. Photo / Thinkstock

Women read far more than men.

Indeed, one in four men in New Zealand admit they have not read a book in the past 12 months.

But, according to a survey, 9 per cent of New Zealanders have read more than 50 books in the past year. Most of these bookworms were aged over 65.

But whether you read one or 100 books, New Zealanders are still attached to hard copy books and prefer them to ebooks.

The Research NZ survey, commissioned by New Zealand Book Month, asked 505 people about their reading habits. The results, released yesterday, found 23 per cent of men hadn't read a book in the past year, compared with only 8 per cent of women.

New Zealand author Paul Thomas said, sadly, those results did not surprise him. "There's always been a lot of talk around the fact that women read a lot more than men, women tended to be the book buyers rather than men and it was having an impact on the nature of publishing," he said.

"Even with sportsmen books, it's mostly women buying the books to give to men as gifts."

The increase of sport matches shown live on television seemed to be drawing men away from books.

Mr Thomas also mused that those findings might be because of boys' preference to play video games or sport whereas girls were traditionally more studious which encouraged better reading habits.

The survey found men would much rather pick up a newspaper, magazine or browse the internet in their free time before reading a book, whereas women rated books as their preferred choice over other forms of reading.

Another of the survey's findings which didn't surprise Mr Thomas was that 20 per cent of over 65s reported having read more than 50 books in the past year compared to just 4 per cent of 18 to 44-year-olds.

"The 65 and above generation have grown up going to the library ... and I'm not sure that that's something that young people really do any more. You go to the library to get something to read for recreation as opposed to study, but that doesn't really seem to be the way any more," Mr Thomas said.

And despite the growing number of New Zealanders reading electronic books, 77 per cent of those surveyed who had read at least one book in the last year said they would still prefer to read a paper-based book than an ebook.

NZ Book Month organiser Megan Dunn said it was interesting electronic books hadn't dented book sales.

OPENING THE BOOKS

* 84 per cent read at least one book in the past year.
* 9 per cent read more than 50 books in the past year.
* 23 per cent of men and 8 per cent of women read no books in the past year.
* 4 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women read more than 50 books in the past year.
* Of those who had read a book, 77 per cent would prefer to read a paper book.
* Of those who had read a book, 14 per cent would prefer to read an ebook.

- NZ Herald

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