Fewer in Denmark read books, despite publishing growth

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Fewer in Denmark read books, despite publishing growth
File photo: Morten Germund/Scanpix 2017

Although the number of books to be found on the shelves of libraries and bookshops in Denmark is steadily increasing, the number of people reading them appears to be on the wane.


The number of 30-39 year-olds who regularly read novels and short stories has fallen by ten percent since 2010, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Ministry of Culture’s Books and Literature Panel.

A number of other findings also pointed to a reduction in the amount of literature being devoured by people in Denmark.

“A record number of books are being published, but at the same time, there are fewer keen readers. That could be the result of a number of factors and trends which we will need to follow closely,” minister for culture Mette Bock said in a press statement.

The report also found that people with high levels of education – normally the keenest reading demographic – are reading less than in the past.

But although fewer are reading novels, audio books are seeing a surge in popularity.

232,453 audio books were borrowed from Danish public libraries in July 2018, the highest number on record.

Use of ebooks is also growing, although only 3.5 percent of the population said that they read daily or almost daily using the digital format, the study found.


Anne-Marie Mai, a member of the Books and Literature Panel, said that books are facing stiff competition from streaming services and social media.

“There’s hardly any doubt that the growing and more comprehensive media selection of the last decade is making the battle for consumers’ attention a tougher one, in which time for reading is under pressure from other options like film and television streaming and social media,” Mai said.

A British study has shown that the average time spent on media and communication by adults in 2016 was 11 hours per day.

Although Danes were found to be spending less time reading novels and short stories, textbooks did not see a similar fall-off in usage, according to the new report.

The Ministry of Culture’s Books and Literature Panel was established in 2014 in order to follow trends relating to the market for books. The panel consists of seven researchers from the literary field.

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