International Update: Canadian Leisure & Reading Study; Visit to Soweto Book Café

BookNet Canada has released The Canadian Leisure and Reading Study 2021, which features results from a survey fielded in January 2022 to 1,282 Canadians over the age of 18. Where noted, results are compared to the January 2021 survey of 1,253 Canadian adults. Among the highlights: 

Less than half (45%) of respondents said they had enough leisure time, compared to 35% with more than enough and 20% not enough. For readers, 94% said that they read at least one print book in 2021, 64% read at least one e-book, and 45% listened to an audiobook. In terms of frequency, 42% said they read at least once a day, 22% once a week, 14% once a month and 22% less than once a month.

Popular reading-related activities for readers included searching for other books by that author (38%); sharing the experience, book or photo of the book with others (22%); going online to read about the author or follow them on social media (17%).

Regarding the ways Canadians acquired print books, 56% of respondents chose to buy and 44% borrow. For e-books, 49% chose to buy and 51% borrow; and for audiobooks, 48% chose to buy and 52% borrow. The most popular ways respondents discovered the books they read were word of mouth (36%), bookstore (27%), public library (25%), online book retailers (20%), podcasts (8%) and through literary awards or "Best of" lists (6%). 

Other findings: 

  • The most popular reason why respondents chose to read a specific book was the subject or topic (43%).
  • Book-to-screen adaptations were not as popular reasons to read a book in 2021 (5%) as they were in 2020 (11%).
  • When asked about password sharing for e-book subscription sites, 28% said they either did (12%) or sometimes did (16%). 
  • In terms of spending money on books, 37% of readers said they chose books within their budget and 34% only borrowed or got their books for free. 
  • E-books were the preferred format for 16% of all readers and audiobooks were preferred by just 10% of readers.
  • Print book readers are choosing to read more adult non-fiction in 2021 than they did in 2020--69% in 2021 up from 61% in 2020.
  • True crime readership was up among print book readers, at 29% in 2021 compared with 24% in 2020.

A copy of The Canadian Leisure and Reading Study 2021 can be downloaded here.  


Africanews featured Thami Mazibuko, who relocated back to Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa several years ago and founded the Soweto Book Café in his childhood home in 2018 as a space where he could advance literacy and "provide the community with access to books and information which is their basic human right."

"I am a reader myself," he said. "When I came back here around 2016/15, there were no bookstores at all, I did not have books. So I started collecting books, I had some of the books I travelled around with so. When I used to live in the city, I had my books, I brought 30 books. So I had an idea to start a business and also for a bookshop and a library for the community."

The Book Café also provides a quiet space for the youth living in the neighborhood. They come to do their assignments, relax and read, including 50 regular members of a book club. "Small bookshops like this one proliferate across Johannesburg, usually offering second-hand books, but also a sense of community," Africanews wrote.


Bookseller Moment: Posted on Instagram by Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris, France:  "It's a beautiful spring day in #Paris. Why not come to @shakespeareandcocafe for a drink on the terrace, or just for a game of chess en plein air...." --Robert Gray

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