Even in the age of e-readers Kiwis love libraries - patrons of libraries in New Zealand's main centres checked out nearly 26 million items in the year to June 2016.

However, this was a 2 per cent drop in loans compared to the year ending June 2015, when Kiwis checked out 26,537,791 items from libraries in main cities.

Among the most popular rentals last year were books in British author Lee Child's Jack Reacher thriller series which made the top 10 most rented books in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Tauranga, Christchurch and Dunedin.

In Auckland alone, Child's 2015 novel Make me was loaned more than 5000 times.


Other titles that were Kiwi favourites last year were The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins and John Kinney's Diary of a wimpy kid childrens' books.

This year Aucklanders are keen to get their hands on My sister's keeper author Jodi Picoult's latest release Small great things - 400 people had requested the book as at April 4.

However Lee Child's Night school and Joanna Trollope's City of friends topped wait lists across the country with 422 and 308 people in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin placing the respective books on hold.

Carolyn Robertson, head of libraries and information at Christchurch City Council, said often books became popular because they had advertised extensively, were connected to a TV series or featured on bestseller lists in New Zealand and overseas.

She said the central character in Child's series, Jack Reacher, likely increased his books' popularity.

"In many ways Jack is a similar to James Bond, a hero who manages to get out of any scrape or situation he gets himself into. The books follow a standard recipe and provide escapism for the reader."

Auckland Libraries' head of content and access, Catherine Leonard, said crime and thrillers were favourites for recreational reading and in reviews on the libraries' online catalogue readers described Lee Child's as "fast-paced", "non-stop action", and "ingenious".

Kiwi writer and University of Auckland senior lecturer in creative writing Dr Paula Morris said she wasn't surprised to see the names of Child, Kinney and Trollope on the libraries' most popular lists because they were international writers signed to big publishers.


"Books from the big English-language markets (US and US) often have massive marketing budgets, and if these books are made into movies (like the Jack Reacher books and The Girl on a Train), it means even more international marketing, often with millions of dollars spent.

"It's not a surprise that these are popular books with borrowers. Genre fiction - thrillers, mysteries, romance - is popular everywhere, and has been for a long time. Fantasy is still popular with younger readers, in particular."

The University of Otago's Jacob Edmond, associate professor in English, agreed that it was no surprise that these books topped the most borrowed list.

"The popularity of genre fiction is not new and hardly unique to New Zealand," he said.

While the number of print books being issued in Auckland libraries was slowly declining, e-book issues were increasing.

"We think there are a combination of factors , including the fact that more people get certain types of information online," Leonard said of the factors affecting the drop in print book loans.

"Although loans may be slightly down, our figures show that the duration of people's visits to our libraries are increasing, as is the use of our Wi-Fi."

Although most of the services libraries provide are free to members, late returns and lost items cost Kiwis big time in the year to June 2016 when libraries in main centres charged $3,306,191.07 in fines and penalties.

Leonard told the Herald many factors could be impacted increase in fines collected.

"These include a new fee for the not collecting requested titles, better recovery of fines at our libraries and a corresponding reduction in debt recovery of fines."

The book that disappeared from shelves most frequently in Auckland - 20 times - was The official New Zealand road code: your guide to becoming a safe and responsible driver.

Libraries in Auckland had a security system to prevent books from going missing, Leonard said.

All books, DVDs, CDs and console games had RFID tags and all libraries had RFID security gates.

If they hadn't been desensitised during check-out the items' tags attached to the items set off an alarm when taken through the gate.

Loans per city
• Total loans July 2015-June 2016:
Auckland - 14,112,540
Hamilton - 1,422,759
Tauranga - 1,655,102
Wellington - 2,923,042
Christchurch - 4,465,032
Dunedin - 1,409,068

• Total loans July 2014-June 2015:
Auckland - 14,215,557
Hamilton - 1,495,537
Tauranga - 1,733,174
Wellington - 2,902,402
Christchurch - 4,668,146
Dunedin - 1,522,975

• Most popular books in 2016:
Hamilton, Tauranga, Auckland - Make me by Lee Child
Wellington - Diary of a wimpy kid: The long haul by Jeff Kinney
Dunedin: Diary of a wimpy kid by Jeff Kinney
Christchurch: Make me by Lee Child for adults' fiction and Owl babies by Martin Waddell for kids (no data on overall rentals was available)

• Top five books with longest wait lists in 2017:
Auckland - Small great things by Jodi Picoult, Show me the money honey by Ian Wishart, Night school by Lee Child, The whistler by John Grisham, and Dr Libby's women's wellness wisdom: what every woman needs to know by Dr Libby Weaver
Christchurch - Lion: a long way home by Saroo Brierley, The wish child by Catherine Chidgey, Born to run by Bruce Springsteen, Night school by Lee Child, and Behind her eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Dunedin - Night school by Lee Child, 16th seduction by James Patterson, Slow cooked by Allyson Gofton, City of friends by Joanna Trollope, and Essential vol. 1 by Annabel Langbein
(Data for Wellington was not provided by deadline and was not requested from Hamilton and Tauranga).

• Books that went missing most often in 2017
Auckland - The official New Zealand road code
Hamilton - Numerous novels by Clive Cussler, J. T. Edson, James Patterson and Nora Roberts
Christchurch - Pretty girls by Karin Slaughter and The curious explorer's guide to the Moominhouse
(Data unavailable for Dunedin, no clear trends for Tauranga and Wellington).

• Fines and penalties issued in year to June 2016:
Auckland - $1,680,855
Hamilton - $279,375
Tauranga - $125,799
Wellington - $529,151
Christchurch - $538,877
Dunedin - $127,523