12 March 2014

The charity Booktrust claims that the population of England is divided into “two nations”, namely “page turners” who read and “button pushers” who prefer to watch television and films.

According to the charity’s research on reading habits, there is a significant link between an individual’s social background and how likely they are to read; the more advantaged their background, the more likely the person is to read.

A higher proportion of people from the poorest backgrounds reportedly never read (27% compared to 13% from the highest socio-economic group), while younger people, men and those with lower levels of qualifications are also less likely to read.

Around one-third (36%) of respondents to the survey say they become bored with a book, while 35% say they do not have time to read and 45% prefer watching television and films.

A large proportion of people believe that technology is changing things, with 56% overall thinking that computers will replace books over the next two decades; this figure rises to 64% among 18- to 30-year-olds.

Indeed, more than one-quarter overall would rather surf the internet and use social media than read, rising to 56% among 18- to 30-year-olds.

Viv Bird, Booktrust Chief Executive, said the research indicates that “frequent readers are more likely to be satisfied with life, happier and more successful in their professional lives” but that there is a “worrying cultural divide linked to deprivation”.