UN DATA: the pandemic made us read

It is a fact that the quarantine caused by the covid-19 pandemic has had important effects on physical and mental health of a lot of people. This is because people who have had or been able to adhere more strictly to the confinement measures their routine and habits have been radically modified. Among the obvious impacts is the increase in the internet consumption, which is now used much more, both for leisure, and for work and study. But it's not just that.

In addition to the growth in consumption of social networks, where the video format, and in particular YouTube, has been the protagonist, another habit that has undergone interesting changes is reading. In Spain, for example, a study determined that the reading of books reached a historical maximum during the months of confinement: 57% of frequent readers (weekly).

En Últimas Noticias We decided to explore the landscape of reading in Venezuela and its relationship with the pandemic. That is why we conducted a digital survey in latestnews.com.ve and our social networks with various questions about reading habits. Between Monday 6 and Thursday 9 September, 2.647 people completed the 8-question questionnaire and these were the results:

Book Vs Internet

When we asked our audience if they used to read regularly, 94,5% answered yes. Only 5,5% clearly do not consider themselves a regular reader. This is not surprising considering that this is a means of communication and it is expected that most of the people who interact with us are prone to reading. However, the following questions would clarify the picture a bit more.

We immediately questioned the participants about what kind of readings they do most often. Several options could be selected from the following: books, newspapers, magazines, web portals, blogs, newsletters, forums, social networks, and comics or graphic novels.

We obtained the interesting finding that our readers prefer books (64%) and social networks (64,6%) in the same proportion. In third position was the preference for web portals, blogs, newsletters and forums, with 54,6%. Newspapers are present in 50,6% of cases and magazines in 22,5%. Finally, comics and graphic novels are part of the habit of 11% of the participants.

What about the book?

The survey continued to explore more specifically the situation of books in the reading habits of Venezuelans. We asked how often people read "books" in particular, to get an idea of ​​the proportion of readers in the more traditional sense of the term.

34,5% said that they read books every day. These would be the toughest readers, with a particularly marked habit. 31,8% responded that they are dedicated to reading 1 or 2 times a week, which makes them frequent readers. Then there are those who say that they only open a book 1 or 2 times a month, they were 16,2% of the responses. 11,2% said they only do it once or twice a year. These two groups could be considered as infrequent readers. The remaining 1% confessed that they never read books.

So we could say that 66,3% are regular readers and 27,8% are infrequent readers. In this way our perspective on the matter is refined.

Regarding the motivation of people to read, 28,8% said that they do it only for recreation and to fill their free time. 4,6% responded that they read mostly for work or study reasons. But the vast majority, 66,5%, affirm that their reasons for reading are hybrid, that is, they do so both for leisure and for work or student reasons.

The rise of digital and the decline of the novel

We are in a time of cultural transition starring dizzying technological advances, especially in the field of communication and information. Digital is growing at an impressive speed and the book is no stranger to this process. We can see it in our survey, noting that the consumption of digital books and paper books is practically balanced. We could say that we are at the breaking point, at the gates of cultural change.

22,6% say that they mostly read books on paper. But another 22% claim to read more digital books. The majority, however, responded that they read in both formats "equally" (55.4%). Interesting, right?

We now turn to consider the genre preferred by our readers. We have that the narrative, novel and story, indisputably dominates the scene with 72,3%. But, although it could normally be thought that the novels are more appreciated by the reading public, it turns out that here it was the stories that scored in the preferences, taking 44,9%, with the novels in second place, with 27,4%.

The essay is the favorite of 23,5% and only 4,2% opts for poetry.

Between knowledge and balance

We reached the point where we asked the survey participants how the pandemic has affected their reading habits, to see if we resemble the Spanish in this, according to what we saw at the beginning of this note.

A resounding 60,5% responded that the pandemic made them read more. Just over a third, 34,7%, said the pandemic had no effect on their reading habit. That is, they read the same as always. The remaining 4,8% answered that they had rather read less than before.

Seeing that the positive impact that the pandemic has had on reading has been so strong, it is interesting to know how the latter has influenced readers during this year and some that has been so hard for everyone. We achieved that with our last question, which was about what reading has contributed to each of us during this special period.

Participants could select several options, because perhaps a single definition would not be enough to describe their experience. But 80,5% of readers made it clear that during the era of covid-19 they have sought in reading the search for knowledge and learning. Half said that reading has given them peace of mind (57,5%) and has served as entertainment (56,1%). 42,7% have used it as a relaxation method. 34% have managed to improve their mood through it and 7% use it to “disconnect” from the routine. Others find joy (21,6%), security (18,1%) and enthusiasm (17,5%) in it.

These data can be useful when it comes to better analyzing and understanding the cultural moment we are in and how the pandemic has certainly helped accelerate the processes of change. @angelgonzalezvn


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