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Books by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir on a shelf.

Icelanders Reading More During Pandemic

Icelanders are reading more books and listening to more audiobooks this year than last year. A survey commissioned by the Icelandic Literature Centre shows that Icelanders are now reading 2.5 books per month, up from 2.3 around the same time last year. The survey found that women read more than men, and families with two or more children read more than others in Iceland.

More Reading in Icelandic

More than one third of respondents who listen to audiobooks (36%) said they consume more of them now than they did last year and 18% of those who read traditional books said they read more now than before the pandemic. Audiobook consumption increased overall from last year.

More respondents this year reported reading exclusively or most often in Icelandic than in last year’s survey (61%). Those 18-35 read more in languages other than Icelandic than any other age group. Around 80% of respondents stated they felt it was important that new foreign books were translated into Icelandic. The majority of respondents, or 73%, considered it important for Icelandic literature to have public funding (this figure was similar to last year).

Women and Families With Children Read Most

Families with three or more children read more than households with no children and also reported using libraries most. Around half of the survey’s respondents reported that they use library services.

Women read more than men, according to the survey’s findings. While women in Iceland read on average 3.1 books per month, men read just 1.9. Men’s reading has increased more between years, however, while women’s reading has stayed largely the same. Around 78% of the survey’s female respondents had read a book in the past 30 days while 65% of male respondents had.

Spending the Same on Books

While the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have encouraged reading among Icelanders, it does not appear to have affected book purchasing much. Around 78% of respondents said they buy a similar number of books now as they did last year, while 16% say they buy fewer and 6% that they buy more.

The survey was commissioned by the Icelandic Literature Centre in collaboration with six other organisations in the literature industry and carried out by Zenter. The sample size was 2,200, of which 1,101 responded.

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