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The 2009 survey of Children's Participation in Selected Cultural and Leisure Activities (ABS 2009a) was conducted in regard to the activities of 5-14 year olds and showed that girls were more likely to read for pleasure than boys at any age. Overall, 80% of girls read for pleasure during the two-week reference period compared with 65% of boys. Girls also read for longer than boys - the average time spent by girls who read for pleasure during the two-week period was 7.8 hours, compared with 6.4 hours for boys.
Research conducted by Starcom for the Australia Council for the Arts, Books Alive 2008 - reader research, looked at the reading habits of 1,200 Australians aged 16 to 65 years, who had read a book for pleasure in the last three years. The study found that almost 7 out of 10 people reported reading books regularly. Of those who read regularly for pleasure, most read magazines (66%), newspapers (61%) or fiction books (58%), while less than half read non-fiction books (41%).
Reading for enjoyment was the main motivation for people, with 83% of readers reporting this as a reason for the activity. General interest was also a popular reason (68%), followed by relaxation and reducing stress (67%) and to improve knowledge (59%).
The main barriers preventing most readers from reading included lack of time (47%) and the cost of new books (40%). For 24% of all readers there were no significant barriers to reading.
Technology has changed the way some people read books. In 2010, the Books Alive program was rebranded Get Reading!. Data from the Get Reading! 2010 Campaign Effectiveness Research showed that 13% of people who had read a book for pleasure in the last three years had downloaded an electronic book (e-book) from the internet in the 12 months prior to survey. These e-books can be read on several types of reading device with 10% of respondents using a mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA) or laptop and 6% using a portable reading device or e-book reader. When asked about their future intentions for adopting reading technologies, 21% said they were likely or very likely to download an e-book from a website, 22% said they were likely or very likely to use an e-book reader and 16% said they were likely or very likely to read an e-book on their mobile phone, PDA, or laptop. More information on the Books Alive and Get Reading! survey can be found at www.australiacouncil.gov.au.
Data from the ABS Time Use and Adult Literacy and Life Skills Surveys should not be compared with data from the Starcom research due to differences in survey methodology, definitions and reference periods.