38% of Bulgarians have not read a single book in the last year

38% of Bulgarians have not read a single book in the last year
38% of Bulgarians have not read a single book in the last year

On the International Day of Literacy, the Association "Bulgarian Book" gathered the institutions at a conference where startling data from a nationally representative survey "Bulgarian and reading" conducted by "Alfa" was presented Research".

The study covers four main thematic circles: the place of reading in the lives of Bulgarians and the change in the ways of reading; the importance of reading in the personal biographical path and upbringing of children; the book market and book borrowing; reprographic rights and the "downloading" of books from the Internet. The survey was conducted in the field in the period November 24 - December 5, 2021.through a direct standardized tablet interview. The sample is stratified by region and type of settlement, and the selection of respondents is by quota based on the characteristics of gender, age and education.

Place of reading in the world of Bulgarian - from classical to digital reading:

Reading books managed to keep its place in the "top 5" activities practiced by Bulgarians in their free time. At the same time, significant changes are taking place both in people's activities outside of their professional activities, and in the forms and ways of reading. The leading place in the structure of free time continues to be occupied by watching television (69.5%). However, this share is down by 15 to 20 percentage points compared to 2016, with the youngest generations down by over 30 points.

As a result of this dynamic, the television screen has been dethroned from the pedestal of the main activity for young people, replaced by their communication through social networks and Internet activities.In their free time, over 80% of people under 30 and over 60% of those under 40 communicate through social media or have various activities on the Internet. Of the 36 percent of respondents indicating reading as their usual occupation, only 11% are up to 30 years old and 15% - up to 40 years old. All these indicators show a very serious and deepening displacement of classic reading from activities in the electronic environment.

For those who read, the preferred method remains the paper medium (52%). Although it retains its top spot, it is down 15% from 2014, when 67% of respondents said they read predominantly on paper. Respectively, alternative, electronic ways of reading increased from 36.7% to 46.8% – on a computer (20%), tablet or smartphone (9%), e-reader (6%), listening to audiobooks (1%).

Almost 38% of those surveyed said they had not read a single book in the past year.

The long-term trend is to decrease the number of active readers

From the point of view of reading books, the adult population of the country can be divided into three large groups: one third - weak or non-readers (have not read a single book in the last year and define themselves as "non-readers"); one third - sporadic and situational readers (up to 6 books per year) and one third - intensive readers (more than 6 books per year).

Fiction is preferred - 46.8%. Interest in contemporary Bulgarian authors has doubled - from 8% in 2014 to 16% today. There is a slight increase in the world and Bulgarian classics, preferred by 15 to 20 percent of the respondents. One in two reports that they read Internet-based text - news portals, articles, books on the Internet, or simply posts and emails. Professional, documentary or reference literature attracts the interest of 32.8% of Bulgarian adults. Children's and juvenile literature, incl. fantasy, indicated that they read 11.2% of respondents.

The trend observed in the previous waves that the 40-60 year old generation is the most read continues., living in larger urban centers, with higher education and income. It is significant that the share of the middle generation who read fiction is equal to the share of 18-30 year olds who read posts on social networks (46% each).

In sync with the general trend of a gradual decrease in book reading, the share of people who either do not own any books at home or have fewer than 10 books is creeping up. They already cover about 20% of adult Bulgarians. 91% of them have not read a single book in the last year.

The most ardent readers are those 35% of respondents who own more than 100 books in their home. Two-thirds of them have read more than 6 books in the last year. The more books a person has, the higher his interest in reading. However, this home library function may be slowly dying out – the survey found that 18% of those with over 100 books at home and 9% of those with over 200 books had not read a single book in the past year.Obviously, some of today's home libraries are collected thanks to the older generations, but their presence does not always motivate the younger ones to read. Books are present in the home as part of parents' lives, but not necessarily as part of the intellectual life of the young generation.

About three quarters of Bulgarians do not use libraries to borrow books. Local libraries (mainly in community centers) remain the most used libraries (17.6%), especially in smaller settlements. They compensate to some extent for the poorer access and material opportunities to purchase books by their residents. The use of a library is the only indicator on which small villages are in a better position than the population of large cities.

On a personal level, the importance of reading occupies a very different place for different socio-demographic groups. The trends compared to previous research on this indicator remain relatively stable, even with a slight upward trend towards 2021.Today, 60% of Bulgarians, compared to 56% in 2019, strongly support the statement that it is worth reading. For 28% (30% in 2019) the importance of reading gives way to other activities considered more important, and 12% are of the opinion that there is no point in reading.

The higher the socio-economic status of the respondents (higher education, type of employment, income), the more pronounced is the attitude that reading is important. In addition, the wider range of opportunities in large cities and especially in the capital - both economic and the diversity of cultural life, also develop reading attitudes.

For the 18-30 age group, the value of books and reading has been largely displaced by activities in a digital environment, such as watching movies, listening to music, playing games on the Internet, spending time on social networks. Among this group, among the oldest, the second highest proportion of not having read a single book in the last year was registered.

The habit of reading books begins to be built from an early age. A number of factors are important for this, the most significant of which are the personal example in the family, the practice of parents to read regularly to children while they are small, and subsequently - in the process of their growth - to establish habits and encourage their interest in reading books, other than compulsory school literature. The present study largely confirms the connections between the presence (or absence) of these practices and the development of reading practices in children.

83% of parents of children up to the age of 7 declare that they read to them: 39% - "regularly" and 44% - "occasionally". 17 percent say that they do not read to them, but prefer to watch movies on TV or the Internet. Mothers read more often, and fathers more often watch TV or use the Internet with their children.

As children grow older when they can read books on their own, their reading practices largely replicate the patterns set in the family environment.According to 38% of parents of children between 7 and 16, their child/children read up to 5 books in the last year, and according to 21% - between 6 and 10. According to only 8% of parents, their children read more than 10 books for one year.

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