The impact of Covid-19 on the Indian book consumer – books guest writers


A Nielsen Book India consumer research study, which aims to understand reader behaviour during and after the lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, uncovered interesting details on how long people are reading for, their favourite genres, preferred formats, how they are discovering and buying books, and how much they are willing to spend. The online survey of 1,084 Indian adults (with a ratio of 60:40 female/male) to examine the impact of reading and buying behaviour on leisure books (excluding academic books) in India was conducted from 14 May to 7 June 2020. Here are the findings:

CHANGE IN TIME SPENT READING
Two-thirds of book readers say they are consuming more books since lockdown began. Earlier, Indian book readers read books or listened to audiobooks for an average of nine hours per week. Since lockdown this has increased by seven more hours a week.

Two out of five respondents spend more time reading print books; one in two spends more time reading e-books, and one in five in listening to audiobooks.

FORMATS USED FOR READING/LISTENING
Print books accounted for two-thirds of book reading before lockdown and respondents predicted that print books would remain nearly as important even after lockdown. A marginal improvement was also noticed in the consumption of other formats.

Before lockdown, men tended to spend comparatively more time than women reading print books and listening to audiobooks. Women are shifting slightly towards digital books after the lockdown. Across all ages, readers are reading print books. However, older readers (older than 35 years of age) are now marginally consuming more e-books.

Those with younger children are showing an increased interest in buying picture books, activity books and animal stories.

Those with younger children are showing an increased interest in buying picture books, activity books and animal stories.
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POPULAR GENRES DURING THE PANDEMIC
Women are more likely than men not to have changed their fiction reading interests since the outbreak of Covid-19, with both sexes more interested in crime/thrillers and literary/classic fiction, alongside historical fiction (men) and romance (women). Historical/political biographies followed by self-help/personal development and self-study (learning new languages, etc.) are the most popular among non-fiction readers. Respondents with children aged 0-8 are especially likely to have changed their genre interests when buying for children. There is now an increased interest in picture books, activity books and animal stories. Those with children aged 9-17 are more interested in buying spy/detective/mystery stories, fantasy and classic stories.

AUTHOR AND LANGUAGE PREFERENCES
English is the most preferred language for reading followed by Hindi.

One in three male readers prefers to read in Hindi.

Younger consumers (less than 34) are reading more titles from international authors compared to older readers.

Two thirds of respondents prefer both international as well as Indian authors while one in 11 respondents prefers only Indian authors.

METHODS FOR DISCOVERING AND CHOOSING BOOKS
Recommendations from friends/relatives followed by media articles/reviews and general browsing on bookseller websites were the most influential factors on discovering books pre and post lockdown.

Female readers are more likely than men to seek out recommendations from friends/relatives and to read media articles/reviews. Meanwhile, male readers like to discover books by browsing on bookseller websites and looking at bestseller sections.

CHANGE IN SOURCES USED FOR BUYING BOOKS
Purchasing online followed by physical bookstores and then home delivery were the most preferred options for buying books post lockdown. Six out of 10 respondents expect to buy books through physical stores and seven out of 10 through an online bookshop after the lockdown is lifted, with the proportion higher than before lockdown in each case, but more so for online than in-store. Respondents think they will use home delivery more after lockdown than before.

PURCHASING BEHAVIOUR FOR PAPERBACK BOOKS
Fifty percent of fiction readers and 40 percent of non-fiction readers prefer the price point of INR200-INR400 when purchasing paperback fiction and non-fiction titles.



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