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In 2016, households in the European Union (EU) spent over €90 billion or 1.1% of their total consumption expenditure on books, newspapers and stationery. This represents 0.6% of EU GDP or about €200 per EU inhabitant. Annually, households spent double the amount on books, newspapers and stationery as they spent on package holidays. On the other hand, households’ expenditure on these items was less than half of their spending on recreational and cultural services.

Spending on books, newspapers and stationary is in decline. In 1995, 1.8% of the total consumption expenditure of households in the EU was devoted to these items. The share has been constantly decreasing since then to 1.1% in 2016.


Share of household expenditure for books, newspapers and stationery highest in Slovakia, lowest in Bulgaria and Greece

In 2016, households in Slovakia devoted the largest share of their total expenditure to books, newspapers and stationery (2.1%). They were followed by households in Germany (1.6%) and Poland (1.4%).

At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares were recorded in Bulgaria and Greece (both 0.6%), the Czech Republic, Spain and Malta (all 0.7%).


Share of newspapers, books and stationery in total household expenditure

The source dataset is available here


Europeans spend between two and thirteen minutes per day reading books

A survey carried out in 15 EU countries between 2008 and 2015 shows that the average time spent reading books ranges from 2 minutes per day in France and 5 minutes in Italy, Austria and Romania to 10 or more minutes in Estonia (00:13), Finland and Poland (both 00:12) and Hungary (00:10). The survey covered the age group 20 to 74.


Time spent reading books

Source dataset is available here


Highest share of bookworms in Finland and Poland

In Finland, 16.8% of the population surveyed recorded reading books as one of the activities they spent time on (as "main activity"). They were followed by Poland (16.4%), Estonia (15.0%), Greece and Luxembourg (both 11.9%).

At the opposite end of the scale, France (2.6%), Romania (6.2%), Austria (7.2%) and Belgium (7.9%) had the lowest share of respondents reading books.


Share of people reading books

Book readers spend more than one hour per day reading

Those who reported that they read books spent an average time reading ranging from 1 hour 1 minute per day in France to 1 hour 37 minutes in Hungary. In all countries, the share of book readers is higher among women than among men. However, men who read books read for longer periods of time than women.


This news item marks the World Book and Copyright Day, celebrated every year on 23 April.

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