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20 Countries That Read the Most in the World

In this article, we will discuss the 20 Countries That Read the Most in the World. You can skip our detailed analysis, and go directly to the 5 Countries That Read the Most in the World.

Books offer an escape from the trials of everyday life, serving as a source of solace and inspiration for many. There is no doubt that reading provides a sanctuary from the pressures of work, school, and personal challenges, allowing individuals to indulge themselves in alternate realms and acquire fresh insights.

The global books market was worth $144.67 billion in 2023, and it is predicted to increase at a CAGR of 1.8% between 2024 and 2030, as per Grand View Research. Among the main drivers propelling this industry are increased consumer expenditure on books, which is aided by rising incomes and interest, as well as ongoing format advancements that have enriched the entire reading experience. Academic publishers have controlled this market. 

In 2023, the North American book market contributed the most to the global market, accounting for almost 33% of sales. It is expected that the region's abundance of independent publishers and publishing houses will accelerate market expansion. Furthermore, the book market will probably benefit from the increasing number of enthusiastic readers in North America. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is the biggest book retailer in North America, followed by Barnes & Noble.

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According to WordsRated, book sales on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) bring in about $28 billion annually for the company worldwide. In addition to controlling between 50% and 80% of book distribution in the US, the company also accounts for more than 50% of sales from the Big Five publishers. Every year, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) sells at least 300 million print books. Reportedly, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) maintains at least a 40% stake in the US print book market. Moreover, estimates show that the latter may control over 70% of the US print book market by 2025. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)  sells more than 106 million copies annually and holds at least 50% of the market in the UK.

Regarding e-books, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) continues to hold a dominant market share. Through Kindle devices alone, this company sells an astounding 487 million e-books annually. The market share of this company in e-book sales is at least 67%; when Kindle Unlimited subscriptions are taken into account, this number increases to 83%. Approximately 87.9% of UK ebook sales are controlled by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) annually. Even though in 2011 Amazon sold more print books than ebooks, the ratio has subsequently shifted, with print books now being sold by Amazon three times more frequently than ebooks.

Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL), a global children's publishing and distributor, education, and media company, announced in 2022 the acquisition of Learning Ovations, the company behind A2i ("Assessment to Instruction"), a literacy screening, progress monitoring assessment, and instructional planning system used in classrooms and community organizations. 

This acquisition is planned to considerably advance Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL)'s reading platform by incorporating screening and progress monitoring exams, data-driven instructional planning, and professional learning. Moreover, it aimed to incorporate well-known books, e-books, print, and digital learning programs from Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL), as well as additional services and support items to help kids learn and become more literate at home and school. However, the transaction's terms were not made public. 

According to Our World in Data, 86% of the world's population over the age of 15 is literate. In several countries, over 95% of the population possesses basic literacy abilities. The world's most-read book is the Holy Bible. Over 3.9 billion copies of the Bible have been sold in the last 50 years, as reported by Capitalize My Title

Encouraging people to read books is critical due to the numerous benefits it provides. The first response Elon Musk, the creator of SpaceX and a billionaire, gives to questions about how he learned to construct rockets is, "I read books." Hence, learning is one of the most evident advantages of daily reading. Success also requires a deeper understanding of a subject. 

This is likely why the renowned author Roald Dahl famously remarked, "If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books."

Reading has been shown in a study by NeuroReport to activate a complex network of circuits and impulses in the brain. Moreover, as you increase your reading skills, these networks strengthen and grow more sophisticated. In summary, just like our muscles, our brains have a "use it or lose it" mentality. In other words, if we don't exercise our minds regularly, our cognitive talents may deteriorate. Thus, reading every day can help to keep one robust and healthy.

Reading is an activity that can be done safely at home. Plus, books are inexpensive, especially when you utilize services like Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 a month for an unlimited amount of e-books) and your local library. 

Book reading can also help us become more empathetic people, which is another advantage. Additionally, empathy has a lot of advantages; it can strengthen relationships, lower stress levels, and guide our moral compass. Long-term fiction readers, according to research noted in Pub Med, have a better "theory of mind" - a term used to characterize our capacity for empathy and understanding of others. Hence, we can learn to view the world from the viewpoints of our friends, family, and coworkers, for instance, by living through the experiences of Harry Potter or Jane Eyre. 

It turns out that reading has health benefits that can extend our lives, which may be the most fascinating and thrilling result of reading. Those who read books lived around two years longer than those who didn't read books or other types of media, according to 12-year research by Yale University on health and retirement. Those who read for thirty minutes a day, or 3.5 hours a week, also had a 23% higher chance of outliving those who hardly read. So put your smartphone down for the day, pick up a book, and get started.

With that said, here are the 20 Countries That Read the Most in the World. 

20 Countries That Read the Most in the World
20 Countries That Read the Most in the World

Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

Methodology:

To build our ranking of the 20 Countries That Read the Most in the World according to an average number of hours spent reading per week per capita, we only looked at nations mentioned in the NOP World Culture Score Index, which undertook a global survey to determine how much time people throughout the world spend reading each week for each country in the list. 

The study's findings do not define the type of material being read, which could range from online news to work e-mails, magazines, or printed books.

According to the average number of hours spent reading per week per capita, our list of the 20 Countries That Read the Most in the World, is presented in ascending order.          

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20. Germany

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 5:42

Germany has an impressive reading culture, with its citizens spending an average of 5 hours and 42 minutes reading each week. This figure shows that a sizable portion of the population is interested in literary endeavors and dedicated to advancing reading habits and literature in this country. 

19. Canada

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 5:48

Canada has a strong culture of reading, as evidenced by the country's per capita reading figures of 5 hours and 48 minutes per week. This shows how much the people there value, cherish, and include reading in their daily lives.

18. Spain

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 5:48

The average amount of reading each week in Spain, which is 5 hours and 48 minutes per person, demonstrates a deeply ingrained cultural value placed on reading and literacy. This dedication to reading is indicative of a culture in which reading is important for intellectual stimulation, education, and leisure.

17. Turkey

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 5:54

The average amount of time that Turkish citizens spend reading each week—five hours and forty-four minutes—reflects the country's strong emphasis on literacy and intellectual engagement, where people take the time to read widely and broaden their knowledge. This commitment to reading probably helps create a culture where creativity, critical thinking, and lifelong learning are valued. 

16. Argentina

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 5:54

Argentina’s 85% population reads books (which includes both print and electronic books), and 56% of its people read one book a year or more, according to the National Survey of Cultural Consumerism. The average Argentinean reads nearly three novels a year, considering readers and non-readers. Only 8% read occasionally, 11% read monthly, and 37% read weekly (every day or certain days a week). The most common genres are novels, fiction, and history in Argentina. 

A deep-seated love of storytelling and cultural respect for the written word is evident in Argentina, where the average weekly reading time per person is 5 hours and 54 minutes. 

15. Indonesia

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:00

The literacy rate in Indonesia has shown a notable improvement over the years as more individuals gain access to quality education. Despite fluctuations between 2010 and 2021, reaching its peak in 2021 and experiencing a decline in 2011, the Global Data reveals a remarkable literacy rate of 99.76% in 2021.

This significant progress in literacy has likely contributed to the cultural inclination towards reading, reflected in the average of 6 hours per week spent engaging with written material.

14. Australia

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:18

According to a study conducted by Macquarie University and the Australian Research Council, 92% of Australians read books. Seven out of ten Australians would like to read more books, and nine out of ten said they read for pleasure or interest. While half of Australians now purchase books online due to its benefits in terms of price, availability, and convenience, the majority still purchase books from physical stores. The great majority of readers still read print books, but more than half also read ebooks, and 12% listen to audiobooks. 

As a result, Australia is among the nations with the highest reading rates, with an average of 6:18 hours read weekly per capita, as per the survey. 

13. South Africa

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:18

In 2023, the National Reading Survey (NRS), conducted a national survey. The findings indicate that 83% of South Africans read for enjoyment, to learn new things, or to communicate with others. Hence, South Africans read more than they realize and rank among the countries with the greatest reading rates, with each person reading an average of 6:18 hours per week, according to statistics. Africa is among the 20 Countries That Read the Most in the World.

12. Venezuela

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:24

Data gathered by the National Book Center (CENAL) indicates that nearly 37 million books on a variety of subjects, including social issues, Venezuelan and international literature, and other disciplines, have been distributed in Venezuela during the past five years. A very important event in the literature field is the International Book Fair of Venezuela (Filven), which distributes hundreds of publications in markets. Thus, it has been crucial for Venezuela to preserve its cultural assets, and book reading is one of them. 

As per the World Culture Score Index global study, the average number of hours spent reading per week per capita is 6 hours and 24 minutes. 

11. Poland

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:30

The Polish Book Institute states that the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage prioritizes encouraging the growth of reading. In Poland, people read for an average of six hours and thirty minutes a week, which suggests that the nation has a strong reading culture. 

10. Saudi Arabia

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:48

Saudi Arabia's average weekly reading time per person is 6 hours and 48 minutes, which suggests that the country's citizens are very interested in reading. This statistic suggests that reading is very important in Saudi Arabia’s culture. Being a significant Islamic nation, the people there frequently recite sacred texts. Thus, contributing to this reading culture.  

9. Hungary

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:48

Hungary's population reads for six hours and forty-eight minutes a week on average. Hungarians routinely read printed books at a rate of about 42%, while just 11% read e-books and 7% listen to audiobooks, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), as reported by state news wire MTI. Hungary is one of the European countries that reads the most

8. France

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 6:54

France's literary legacy comprises well-known writers such as Victor Hugo, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Charles Baudelaire. An active reading culture is promoted by the prestigious Prix Goncourt and events like Salon du Livre. These are complemented by modern initiatives like "book boxes" and digital platforms that increase the accessibility of reading material.

France has a strong reading culture, as evidenced by the country's average weekly reading time of 6 hours and 54 minutes per person.                                                          

7. Sweden

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 7:06

Reading is encouraged in Sweden today, just as it was a century ago, as a means of preparing people to be modern citizens in a democratic society. The nurturing ideal and culture's ability to shape a new type of human are central to Nordic cultural policy (Hylland and Bjurström 2018).  

With its emphasis on literacy, education, and access to books, Sweden has a strong reading culture, as seen by the country's excellent average of 7 hours and 6 minutes per week per capita.

6. Czech Republic

Average number of hours spent reading per week per capita: 7:24

The Czech people have a strong enthusiasm for literature and reading, as seen by the country's healthy average of 7 hours and 24 minutes of reading per week per capita. Books remain one of the most popular gifts for birthdays and Christmas, and Czechs have a reputation for having large personal libraries. During the Communist era, proscribed authors' books were discreetly passed down from hand to hand. Hence, the Czech Republic is one of the countries in the world that is best for reading.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Countries That Read the Most in the World.

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Disclosure: None. 20 Countries That Read the Most in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.