Follow Up – Is Canada a Nation of Readers?

More than 2.7 million books purchased or borrowed last week in Canada

Montreal, January 19, 2011: The numbers are in for the first National Book Count: more than two and a half million books were purchased or borrowed in Canada from January 10-16:

2,714, 946 books to be exact. The Book Count is organized by the National Reading Campaign as part of an ongoing effort to promote a passion for reading in Canada.


1,110,568 books were sold by retailers including Indigo Books & Music, and other national chains as well as over 260 independent bookstores across the country. 1,604,378 books were borrowed from 22 participating public library systems.*


2,714, 946 books in seven days means that in a typical week in January, Canadians bought or borrowed as many books as they purchased tickets to the top box office film. In fact, it is likely that more people picked a book than watched a game on Hockey Night in Canada. We do so much to promote film and to encourage youth to play hockey. Do we do as much to advance reading? The NRC believes our nation can do much more.


The National Book Count provides us with a figure against which we can measure the success of our campaign in future years. While the number of books bought and borrowed is encouraging we are also concerned by the number of young people who in recent surveys report a declining enjoyment in reading.  The economic focus of much of our education system and existing programs for New Canadians and Aboriginal Canadians does little to encourage a love of reading and passionate civic engagement.



What books were tracked?

This is the first time that combined sales and library circulation for books has been tabulated in Canada. Book sales were collected by three book sale aggregators: BookNet Canada, BookManager, and la Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française (BTLF) and book circulation was tracked by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council.


The numbers were collected and combined by the National Reading Campaign and cover 22 public library systems, 80 percent of the English language book retail market and 40 percent of the French language retail market across Canada. No individual consumer information was collected. Online print book sales were captured from major online retailers including and Digital downloads from public libraries were included but not from retailers.


*The Canadian Urban Libraries Council tracked circulation figures for the public libraries in Brampton, Burlington, Burnaby, Calgary, Edmonton, Gatineau, Greater Victoria, Halifax, Hamilton, Kitchener, Markham, Ottawa, Regina, Richmond, Saskatoon, Surrey, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Whitby, and Winnipeg. The circulation figure covers over 11.2 million Canadians.

Myself, I would like to see a study that encompasses every single place in Canada counted for an entire year.  There is some debate about private versus corporate studies, but if the two entities can get together and do this right, we will have an even better look at which places, types of books, people buy and borrow books.  Even for a week study this is I think great news, I think it should be done over a longer period of time and encompass every part of Canada small or large.  What do you think ?

I will be participating in the Summit tomorrow and Friday, I will post what I think is interesting or worthy to talk about in the coming weeks, so keep reading those books !



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