Research suggests that our reading habits changed during the pandemic

woman reading
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The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented changes to people’s lives. It changed every aspect of life, including how (and what) people read.

Reading frequency

Many people now read more frequently than they could because the pandemic afforded them the time. The government’s stay-at-home orders meant that many people didn’t commute to work or engage in daily routines. That was especially true for parents because they shared more reading time with their children. Many couldn’t afford time for personal reading.

It also led to the issue of quality vs quantity. People extended their reading time to escape from the monotony of staying indoors, but they couldn’t concentrate due to the added responsibilities at home. They ended up reading more and covering less.

Content (What we read)

The global COVID-19 pandemic also brought drastic shifts in what people read. With children stuck at home, it led to a spike in sales for children’s storybooks. Juvenile and activity book sales topped the preference chart with 80% and 40% increases, respectively.

Additionally, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement – that gained steam during the pandemic – also significantly impacted book media. Many companies, media houses, and publishing companies highlighted the BLM movement. Book companies recorded increased sales for non-fiction books that speak on America’s history of racism. Corporate brands funded the BLM movement and invested in racial awareness books to help their employees understand why racial diversity is critical for growth and harmony.

More people read online

Instead of heading to the library or bookstore, many people had to leverage digital solutions to access and read their favorite books. Many book companies now offer their readers online reading resources, while other people download books online or listen to podcasts.

The use of online reading tools is an actual reality in many schools. The lockdown made classroom teaching impractical, and forced many schools to provide students with critical digital books and news articles.

Genre preferences

Although people sought after books related to pandemics and isolation, many quickly lost their interest in the topics. Many felt motivated to search for titles that were more predictable, not necessarily comforting. Folks also had the chance to explore more issues they couldn’t otherwise have read during the pre-COVID-19 era, such as deep classics that one couldn’t have considered reading while commuting.

Increased re-reading

If one was not exploring new genres, they found solace in re-reading books for security and solace. They expressed a neophobic attitude toward new topics but found comfort in subjects they’re already familiar with. The lockdown confined people in their homes. They couldn’t go to the library or bookstore to discover new books. That forced them to re-read.

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