StatsCAN Plus

Curling up with a good book

December 2, 2021, 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Person reading a book by a fireplace.

Curling up with a good book

Many of us start hunkering down in November. Curling up with a good book is one way to pass the time during the long nights ahead.

We are quite good at reading.

Among Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in 2019, Canada had the third-highest share of high performers in reading (15%) among Grade 10 students. We also had one of the lowest shares of students who did not meet the minimum proficiency in reading (14%), well below the OECD average of 23% and lower than the rates for the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.

What are Canadians reading? Educational titles remained the largest commercial category in book publishing prior to the pandemic, accounting for 49.1% of total sales in Canada in 2018. This was followed by fiction and non-fiction mass market books, and children’s and juvenile books.

Just under one-third of all book sales in Canada occurred online in 2018, as e-books (13.7% of total sales) or as print books sold online (19.3% of total sales). In fact, online sales of print books rose by 70.2% from 2014 to 2018.

Book sales overall were up 1.7% from 2016 to $1.7 billion in 2018, on higher sales of children’s and juvenile books as well as exports (+9.7%).

Print books (not sold online) accounted for just over two-thirds of total book sales in 2018, down from over three-quarters in 2014.

Sales of French and other language titles increased by 15.7% to $255.4 million in 2018, while sales of English titles decreased by 1.6% to $1.1 billion.

Books accounted for a relatively small share ($165) of the $68,980 Canadian households spent on average in 2019, behind games of chance such as lottery tickets, sports betting and casino games ($186).


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