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Australians are reading more than ever. Barbie and Taylor Swift may be the reason

Australians tend to do more reading late at night.

Australians tend to do more reading late at night. Photo: Getty

In 2023, Australians spent the equivalent of nearly 1430 years reading, with pop culture helping people turn the pages.

Last week, Rakuten Kobo, a digital bookseller, unveiled its annual Kobo Book Report, which gives an insight into what Australians are reading and how late they are staying up to do so.

Rakuten Kobo’s CEO, Michael Tamblyn, noted that Australians are reading more than ever, with reading total nationwide time increasing by 119 years in 2023 compared to 2022.

“In troubled times, when people are feeling uncertain, they turn enthusiastically to reading. We’ve seen groundbreaking new releases and outstanding page-to-screen adaptations take the world by storm,” Tamblyn said.

“We are delighted to note that our Australian readers are reading more and more often – everything from travel, self-help to mystery.”

Night owls

In NSW and Victoria, the most popular time to read is 9pm, in South Australia and Queensland it’s 10pm. In Western Australia, 11pm is the most popular reading time, Rakuten Kobo found.

However, there has also been an uptick of readers flicking through some pages first thing in the morning.

The Kobo Book Report found many Australians had their noses buried in books at 5am, which is increasing by 33 per cent year-on-year.

Additionally, the day Australians will most likely pick up a book is Monday, according to the report.

Pop culture purchases

It’s been a big year for popular culture and it’s no surprise that it has influenced reading habits.

This year eBooks and audiobooks related to Taylor Swift saw a 659 per cent increase in sales in July this year, which coincided with The Era’s Tour, tickets for her Australian shows going on sale and Speak Now Taylor’s Version.

Barbie and Oppenheimer dominated the box office this year.

Books related to Barbie rose 13 per cent and while Greta Gerwig’s film outperformed Christopher Nolan’s atomic epic, people had a thirst to know more about the father of the A-bomb.

There was a 638 per cent increase in sales of books related to Robert Oppenheimer and his devastating, war-winning device.

PICTURED is Barbie and Oppenheimer

Barbie and Oppenheimer influenced what Australians were reading this year.

Books are also seeing a second wave of popularity when they are adapted.

“Taking the story from the big screen to the book page has created renewed interest in titles including A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, following the release of the screen adaptation starring Tom Hanks and retitled A Man Called Otto,” Rakuten Kobo said.

“Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Queen Charlotte by Julia Quinn also saw increased sales following the adaptations released to streaming.”

TikTok is also helping Australians pick their next read.

BookTok influencers are a “key driver” of reading trends, with books from the likes Sarah J Maas, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Colleen Hoover all being wildly popular online and selling well in Australia.

On the road

Coming out of COVID, Australians have had a renewed appetite for travel, so it’s not surprising that we’re drawn to travel-related books.

There has been more than an 80 per cent rise in travel books year-on-year.

Also piquing reader’s interest was artificial intelligence, with a 152 per cent surge in books related to that topic being purchased this year when compared to last.

There was also a surprising uptick in Australians purchasing books about antiques and collectables, which could be a sign we are getting thrifty, or perhaps that thriftiness itself is a sign of the times.

Books about health and fitness, mind and spirit also remain popular among Australian readers.

However, the top performing genres of 2023 are what you would expect.

Romance is the most popular genre, followed by biography and autobiography, then mystery and, in fourth place, business and economics.

Pictured is someone on a plane

Reading habits are reflecting Australian’s desire to travel.

The books Australians chose

Rakuten Kobo is a digital bookseller, providing both eBooks and Audiobooks. Interestingly, the Top 10 list for eBooks differs slightly from the Top 10 list of Audiobooks.

Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, appears on both lists, but is significantly more popular among Audiobook listeners. It appears people prefer to hear celebrity memoirs, opposed to reading them.

Top 10 eBooks: 

  1. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
  2. Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt, Lucinda Riley
  3. Fourth Wing, Rebecca Yarros
  4. Spare, Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex
  5. Yellowface, Rebecca F Kuang
  6. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
  7. It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover
  8. The Bookbinder of Jericho, Pip Williams
  9. Verity, Colleen Hoover
  10. The Last Devil To Die, Richard Osman

Top 10 Audiobooks

  1. SparePrince Harry The Duke of Sussex
  2. Atomic HabitsJames Clear
  3. Lessons in Chemistry,Bonnie Garmus
  4. GreenlightsMatthew McConaughey
  5. Did I Ever Tell You This?Sam Neill
  6. The Thursday Murder Club,Richard Osman
  7. The Body Keeps the ScoreBessel van der Kolk
  8. The Bookbinder of JerichoPip Williams
  9. The Last Devil To Die, Richard Osman
  10. Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible ThingMatthewPerry
Topics: Books
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