An Increase in the Number of People Reading Welsh Books

1 Jul 2013

In a recent survey conducted by Beaufort Research on behalf of the Welsh Books Council, it was seen that more people are currently reading Welsh books compared with the results of similar surveys held in 2003 and 2006. Of the 1,008 Welsh speakers surveyed, some 43% had read at least one Welsh book a year, compared with 26% in 2003 and 31% in 2006. An increase was also seen in the number of those reading at least one Welsh book a month – from 13% in 2003 to 19% in 2012.

As could be expected, the figure for those who speak Welsh fluently is higher still, with 61% of them reading at least one Welsh book a year. Those who read the greatest number of books live in the predominantly Welsh-speaking areas.

It is significant that respondents between 25 and 39 years of age were the most avid readers of Welsh books, probably reflecting the fact that parents read books with their children. Over half those purchasing Welsh books choose to buy children’s books.

This survey into the habits of those who read and buy Welsh books was commissioned by the Welsh Books Council, and in 2012 Beaufort Research conducted telephone interviews with 1,000 Welsh speakers. The company was also asked to compare the findings of the survey with those of surveys conducted between 2003 and 2006.

"The results are very encouraging," said Elwyn Jones, Chief Executive of the Books Council. "They are an indication of the success of the publishing industry in Wales as it responds to the wish of readers of all ages for a wide range of appealing, popular books. The results also show clearly that the investment made over recent years by the Welsh Government is now bearing fruit."

The Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths, said: "It is very encouraging that this research shows more people are reading Welsh books and that the publishing industry in Wales is supporting the language through offering a wide range of engaging titles."

"As we know, the future of the language lies with the next generation and therefore it's excellent that so many parents are reading Welsh language books with their children."

The most popular category amongst the readers taking part in the survey was Welsh-language novels, again reflecting the investment made to enable the Books Council to commission a wide range of novels that appeal to different types of readers. As a result of this investment, a large number of appealing titles were published by many new authors as well as by well-known and popular names.

Biographies and autobiographies continue to be very popular with readers, and a significant rise was noted in the popularity of books for children.

The review also studied book-buying patterns and examined how people gleaned information about books. The report underlines the importance of bookshops – not only for the purpose of purchasing books, but also as centres of information about Welsh books. Schools, libraries and various media are also noted as vital sources of knowledge about Welsh books.

It was no surprise to learn that the internet is widely used to search for information about Welsh books, especially amongst young people, and 18% of the Welsh-speakers interviewed had bought a Welsh book on-line.

Elwyn Jones added: "The results of this review are excellent news for the book trade, especially in the current economically challenging period. They also highlight the importance of the book trade’s contribution to the vital work of promoting and supporting the Welsh language. Our aim now is to ensure that we are able to continue to offer to readers the widest possible selection of high-quality titles."

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