From time immemorial, people have found comfort in books, and reading habits and genre preferences have changed during periods of stress. The Covid-19 lockdowns have ironically helped people rediscover the magic of books. For the bibliophiles of the world, quarantine was the perfect chance to rummage through their pile of classic books as well as explore new authors.
According to a recent report from Amazon China, over 70 per cent of readers surveyed said they read more books than before thanks to the isolation time at home. The report, based on feedbacks from more than 18,000 interviewees in China, was published shortly before World Book and Copyright Day which was celebrated recently on April 23.
Closer home, a Nielsen's report on the Impact of Covid-19 on the India Book Consumer, said that during the pandemic, reading time per person has increased from nine hours a week to 16 hours a week!
India reads the most!
The editing and proofreading service, Global English Editing last year gathered statistics from various sources, including Pew Research and Amazon's bestsellers page and found that 35 per cent of web users worldwide reported reading more during the Coronavirus pandemic, and 14 per cent said they read significantly more. And surprise, surprise, India tops the countries that reads the most!
Some of the highlights of the research:
India reads more than any other country, followed by Thailand and China
Printed books continue to drive more revenue than eBooks or audiobooks. However, physical books sales did dip because of coronavirus (not surprisingly).
Romance is our genre of choice, with one-third of all mass market fiction books being romance novels.
35% of the world read more due to coronavirus.
Global English Editing also reported that in March 2020 when lockdown was first imposed in many countries worldwide, there were 1.51 billion visits to book and literature e-commerce sites that month - an 8.5 per cent increase from the previous month before lockdown was imposed.
As for what books people are reading, apocalyptic fiction like Stephen King's The Stand has been popular in the age of Covid-19. Books about (literal and metaphorical) isolation, like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Gabriel García Marquez’s novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera were among those that saw a huge rise in sales.
People were reading more than usual mainly due to having more free time (due to Work From Home so no commute or being furloughed, or job loss).
Many readers found the lockdown to be a great opportunity to explore books they didn’t normally have the time or desire to read like hefty classics that seemed too dull or heavy to carry to work.
Researchers have discovered that reading is an activity that enhances connectivity in the neural network and improves cognition and brain function. That’s why it’s never too early to inculcate the reading habit in your child. And now apps are making it much more easier to develop this habit.
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Apps for eBooks
eBooks are taking over printed books because of the ease of accessibility and use, making them a suitable option for bookworms.
While most of us have read about Kindle and Scribd, there are other reading apps that can downloaded on your smartphones for free:
Several classic children’s audiobook titles are also available for teachers and children on Penguin Random House’s Volumes App. To help kids learn better at home, Google last year announced an early access for families to its app Read Along that was first launched in India as Bolo app with an in-app reading buddy named Diya.
It’s an Android app for children over 5 years old that helps them learn to read by giving verbal and visual feedback as they read stories out loud. Read Along uses Google’s speech recognition technology to help develop literacy skills.
According to Amazon, some of the most read and sold fiction books during Covid-19
Harry Potter series
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Little fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Some of the most read and sold non- fiction books during Covid-19
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
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