Fewer and fewer books are being read in Italy: merciless Istat data

Decline in 2016 in the number of people over 6 in Italy who have read at least one book: merciless Istat data

Istat, the National Institute of Statistics, has published the results of its research on book production and reading in Italy in 2016. The data are merciless: fewer and fewer book readers in Italy, falling from 42 percent of the population over the age of 6 in 2015 to 40.5 percent in 2016, down one and a half percentage points. The figure thus reveals that, in 2016, only 4 in 10 Italians (about 23 million people) over the age of 6 read at least one book outside of school or work, with a higher percentage among women (47.1 percent compared to 33.5 percent among men). The age group in which people read the most is the 11-14 age group, rising to 51.1 percent.

Definitely strong geographical imbalances. The most “avid” readers are found in the autonomous province of Trento (54.8 percent), Friuli Venezia Giulia (54.3 percent) and the autonomous province of Bolzano (51.9 percent), while the regions where people read the least are Calabria (25.1 percent), Sicily (25.8 percent) and Campania (26.3 percent). Data on book ownership indicate that as many as one in ten households (10.1%) do not have even one book in their homes, while only 7.3% of households own at least 400 titles (of the people who have at least 400 books, however, one in five has not read a single one, and another 20 percent or so say they read no more than three books a year). The majority (56.3 percent) at home have fewer than 50 books.

Reading habits are also linked to cultural habits. Among strong readers (those who read at least one book a month, or 14.1% of the population) 45% went to the theater at least once, 69.4% went to the cinema at least once, 57.6% went to a museum at least once, 25.1% went to see a classical music concert at least once, and 35.8% went to see a concert at least once. The percentages, among those who do not read books, drop to 10.2%, 41.7%, 15.8%, 12.3%, 4.1%, and 13.6%, respectively. On reading, the family’s economic condition has a relative impact: 54.1 percent of those who do not read said they were in excellent or adequate economic condition (compared, however, with 68.5 percent of those who read at least one book a year and 73.3 percent of strong readers).

As for book production, up 3.7 percent from 2015, 86 percent of active publishers (about 1,500, half of them small publishers, i.e., houses that produce no more than 10 books a year) said they publish no more than 50 titles a year. Large publishers (those who publish more than 50 books a year: 13.6 percent of the total) produce 86 percent of the books that are printed. Fifty percent of active publishers in 2016 are based in northern Italy.

Ph. Credit

Fewer and fewer books are being read in Italy: merciless Istat data
Fewer and fewer books are being read in Italy: merciless Istat data

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