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Research conducted by Starcom for Australia Council for the Arts, Books Alive 2008 - reader research, looked at the reading habits of 1,200 Australians aged 16 to 65, who had read a book for pleasure in the last three years. The study found that almost 7 out of 10 people reported reading as their most preferred leisure activity. 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%), however 24% of those surveyed reported that there were no significant barriers to reading.
Technology has changed the way some people read books. Data from the 2009 Books Alive Campaign Effectiveness Research showed that 11% of people who have read a book for pleasure in the last three years currently download electronic books (e-books) from the Internet. These e-books are read on devices such as phones/PDA/laptop (7%) and e-book readers (4%). When asked about their future intentions for adopting reading technologies, one-third said they would consider downloading an e-book, 23% said they would consider using an e-book reader and 20% said they would consider reading an e-book on their phone/PDA/laptop. More information on the Books Alive survey can be found at www.australiacouncil.gov.au.
Data from the 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.
The 2009 Children's Participation in Selected Cultural and Leisure Activities survey, conducted by the ABS on the activities of 5-14 year olds, 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.