7% of Singaporeans did not read in past 12 months: NLB study

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SINGAPORE: Seven per cent of people in Singapore did not read a book, a magazine, an online article, or news – whether in print or online – in the past 12 months, according to findings from a study by the National Library Board (NLB) released on Friday (Jun 9).

On the other end of the spectrum, 93 per cent read at least once in the past 12 months and, of these, 80 per cent read more than once a week, the 2016 National Reading Habits Study on Adults showed.

Of the 93 per cent who read, 98 per cent liked to read non-fiction – with topics on Singapore and health and fitness topping their preferences. Fifty-seven per cent indicated that they enjoyed reading fiction, the study added.

Additionally, 66 per cent of those who read said they can do so in English and their Mother Tongue, the study found. 

Spoken word artist Marc Nair reciting poetry at the launch of Read! Fest 2017. (Photo: Dewi Fabbri) 

The NLB study was conducted through door-to-door surveys, with 3,515 people polled nationwide by trained interviewers at different times of the day and on both weekdays and weekends to capture all demographic profiles, said NLB. The survey was conducted from May 4 to Aug 5 last year. 

ARE BOOKS STILL RELEVANT?

The study also found that 68 per cent of people in Singapore read news more than once a week, while 41 per cent read online articles on either social media (39 per cent) or websites (27 per cent) more than once a week. 

By comparison, 19 per cent read books more than once a week. For those who indicated that they read non-fiction books, 15 per cent read more than once a week, while 10 per cent of those who said they read fiction books indicated the same, the study showed.

Findings from focus group discussions conducted separately by NLB, which polled 163 participants aged 20 and above and covering all life stages and ethnicities, shed more light on people’s preferences towards books. 

For those who indicated that they have outgrew books, the reasons given ranged from books being irrelevant, as the latest information can be found online, to choosing to wait for the movie adaptation as they have lost interest in the book. 

But for the minority who do still read books, they said it’s “me time” as it helps them to relax or the book is interesting and “brings them into another world”, the NLB study said.

Human Library: Peranakan author Josephine Chia sharing her story. (Photo: Dewi Fabbri) 

The study was released in conjunction with Read! Fest 2017, NLB’s annual reading festival launched on Friday. The festival encourages all Singaporeans to read widely by expanding their reading selection, reading in their Mother Tongue languages as well as via books written by local authors.

Read! Fest 2017 will run until Jul 29 and will feature 150 programmes across NLB’s libraries. 

Additional reporting by Dewi Fabbri. 

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