Internet usage cuts time spent on books

national February 24, 2015 01:00

By Kawin Praneetlekha
The Nation

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88 per cent of thaIs still read books, spending 28 minutes a day on published material - a lot less than time spent online

A POLL YESTERDAY revealed that Thai people on average spend only 28 minutes a day reading – which is lower than the National Statistical Office’s 2013 report that found Thais aged over six spend an average of 37 minutes a day reading.

A total of 3,432 Thais aged 15-69 in 12 provinces, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thamarat, Nakhon Ratchsima and Khon Kaen, were interviewed from December 2014 to January 2015.

The poll – a collaboration between the Thai Publishers and Booksellers Association (PUBAT), Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Economics and Research Centre for Social and Business Development – was to determine Thais’ reading habits (of all publications including electronic media), book-buying and impacts of social media on their decision to buy books.

The poll found that 88 per cent of Thai respondents said they read books, while 12 per cent said otherwise and cited as reasons the lack of time to read, bad eyesight and a dislike of reading.

The average Thai (based on the

 overall population) spends 28 minutes a day reading – while the calculation based on the number of respondents who read shows that their average time spent on reading is 46 minutes a day. Of this reader group, those under 20 spend the most time reading – at 56 minutes a day. That figure shrinks further the older they get until the age of 61, when people tend to get back to the reading habit and thus read more.

Many prefer feel of paper

The average time youths and children spend on reading is about 46-50 minutes per day, which is similar to the National Statistical Office’s 2013 report. The young people mostly read cartoons, picture novels and examination-preparation books.

PUBAT president, Charun Homtientong, said that the e-book market remains small, as the survey reveals that 90 per cent of people read from paper books while 9.49 per cent read from e-books. Many respondents also agree that people still want to touch and feel books.

Charun also urged the government to pay more attention to and budget for promoting people’s reading |and publication businesses.

The Internet is more influential. Seventy-one per cent of Thais use the Internet almost everyday at the average of 92 minutes a day, which is three times more than the reading figure. Those who spend most time on the Internet are people under 20 (at the average of 224 minutes a day) while those over 61 spend 10 minutes a day there. About 40 per cent of respondents admit to reading fewer papers, because they already read news on websites (such as Sanook, Kapook and Mthai).

Regarding the people’s book-purchasing behaviour, PUBAT executive committee member Mingmanas Sivaraksa said the poll shows that over 90 per cent of the Thai population buys from actual bookstores and less than five per cent buy books online or through telephone orders.

Thais buy an average of four books per year – those under 20 buy the most at about nine books (of which four are cartoons/picture novels and three examination preparation books) followed by those aged 21-30 who buy six books. Seniors over 61 buy about four books a year.

While bookstores remain the source of news about key book launches at 63.6 per cent, many people – especially the young – receive such news though social media (Facebook and Twitter) at 24.2 per cent. Social media then could be a key channel for public relations.