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28 November 2020

Survey reports increase in reading books in Scotland during lockdown

16 November 2020

Scottish Book Trust launched a new report for Book Week Scotland, the country's biggest celebration of reading and writing which runs from Monday 16 November to Sunday 22 November. Reading in Scotland: Reading Over Lockdown is a report by the charity which recruited a panel of people living in Scotland, surveying their experiences of reading between March and August 2020.

The report found that the majority of panellists recorded reading more over the lockdown, with some noting they had more energy for reading due to working from home. 65% of those surveyed stated that they were reading more than they used to, and 60% were reading books they would not have normally read.

Due to covid restrictions impacting libraries and bookshops, many reported that they were reading existing books - 71% reported that they were focusing on their 'to be read' pile rather than purchasing new books. Additionally, comments from the panel included missing the experience of browsing in libraries and bookshops, resulting in less opportunities to see things they want to read and less impulse buying. The report also noted that reading habits changed during lockdown: daily audiobook use tripled (from 4% to 12%) and ebook use more than doubled (from 13% to 29%) between the first and last weekly surveys.

There was also concern about children's access to books: 1/5 of those with children worried about running out of books. 94% of panellists with children usually used the library and school librarians also expressed concern about being unable to promote books due to restrictions on sharing.

During Book Week Scotland, all P1 pupils across the country will receive their free Bookbug Family Bag, containing books and resources to inspire a lifelong love of reading, writing and counting. The Bookbug Primary 1 Family Bag contains the three shortlisted titles for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize - over 175,800 books will be distributed through the bags, and 2,700 translated books for children in Gaelic Medium Education. The winner of the prize is voted for by P1 children and schools or families can also vote from home on the Scottish Book Trust website.

260,000 books will also be gifted to P2 and P3 pupils through their Read, Write, Count bags, which also include an activity guide for families to use at home and educational games. The bags are a great opportunity to build relationships with parents and strengthen links between home and school learning.

Although there will be no face-to-face events for Book Week Scotland this year, the Digital Festival has a stellar line-up including award-winning author Denise Mina; actress and comedian Ruby Wax; bestselling crime writer Louise Welsh and Dr Yusef Salaam of the exonerated Central Park Five.

 Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

"Lockdown has been a difficult time for us all, but it's encouraging to see many of the public have used the time to pick up a book. Reading can support mental health and wellbeing, reduce stress and also help relaxation, so it's the perfect habit to start, even if you didn't read before. We know access to books can be challenging for some, so we're delighted to gift the Bookbug Family Bag to P1 pupils and the Read, Write, Count bags to P2 and P3 pupils during Book Week Scotland: we hope families enjoy exploring them together."

The full Book Week Scotland 2020 programme is available now. For Publishing Scotland's events this year, see our Book Week Scotland page.