Reading Habits From Around The World: 2020 Edition [Infographic]

world reading habits 2020

Over the years, we’ve posted a number of “reading habits” infographics from Global English Editing on this blog, including this one from 2017 and another from 2018. This year, GEE outdid themselves, digging into all sorts of metrics to put the world’s reading habits into perspective.

Now, I’ll admit to skepticism over some of the info here. Is it really possible that, with populations of 1.3 billion and 1.4 billion people respectively, India and China’s populations spend more time reading — on average, per person — than every other country in the world (except Thailand)? My basic math noodlings puts that as an average of 9.3 hours per-week per-person for 2.7 billion people. That’s 25,110,000,000 hours of reading a week! Fun fact: Combined, those two countries make up 35 percent of the world’s population.

Let’s not forget, things are still in motion in 2020. A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s new memoir, just sold 890,000 copies on its first day, which means that list of best-sellers in 2020 might get rearranged a bit.

In other news, did you know that 16 percent of romance readers are men? And, 45 percent of Americans read the Bible at least three times this year? (Whether that’s cover-to-cover or isolated passages, I don’t know).

This teaser gives you an indication of the fun you can have poring over this infographic. Next up, I’d like to see an infographic that charts how much time Americans spend reading infographics. Can someone get to work on that for us?

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Andre Calilhanna is the editor and manager of the BookBaby blog. He's a musician, songwriter, writer, marketer, husband, dad, soccer board member, and soon-to-be published author. Email him at


  1. I’ve heard that American culture has been a durable topic of interest for people living outside the US. I’d love to see an infographic that casts some light on what percentage of books (read or purchased) by non-Americans was written by an American author vs. the percentage that was written in the readers home country.

  2. In India books are heavily subsidised by the government which encourages reading.
    Until last year I lived in China for 11 years. It is a very literate society, and has always read books. They are not too expensive, widely available etc. Also they have amazing libraries, including automatic libraries at bus-stops etc – very similar to western sweets/soft drink vending machines. We in the west are too quick to assume that we are the world’s most voracious readers, it is not so.

  3. Very informative! Glad to know that the book market is evolving, although I’m surprised that print books hold the sales lead. I was sure ebooks were selling more now.
    Having an education in the publishing business, it turns out I don’t know a lot of things. Thank you!

    Comment not on the content: the design of the infographic is excellent.

  4. There is a good reason why women and girls read more than men and boys. There are differences in how brain processes work in the male and the female. Men tend to be more verbal, while women are more vocal. Stop somebody on the street sometime and ask for directions. A woman will use landmarks, while a man wants to look at a map. Men like to see photos of women; women read romance novels.

  5. Are any of the Middle Eastern women authors either Jewish or Israeli? Is Israel considered in any of these lists? It seems-like Finland-to be overlooked here.


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