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Use of smartphones reduces time spent reading books

Published: 21-Oct-13 10:23AM

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TOKYO (Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN) -- The longer people use smartphones, the less time they tend to spend reading books, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

This finding was obtained through a question posed to respondents who said they use smartphones not only for telephone calls but also for such purposes as e-mailing, browsing through Internet websites and gaming.

According to the survey, 28 percent of respondents use their smartphones for purposes unrelated to telephone communications.

Of them, 70 percent of respondents said they spend the same amount of time reading books as before they started using smartphones.

Seventeen percent of them said their time spent reading decreased, 4 percent said their reading time increased, and 8 percent said they do not read books.

The survey, conducted on Sept. 28 and 29, also showed 10 percent of those using smartphones for less than 30 minutes each day said their reading time decreased.

Fourteen percent of respondents using smartphones for at least 30 minutes but less than one hour said their reading time dropped. A similar response was given by 27 percent of respondents who use smartphones for at least one hour.

Of all respondents, 53 percent said they did not read a single book during the one-month period immediately prior to the survey, up from 51 percent in a similar poll taken last year.

The figure for those who did not read a book for a month exceeded 50 percent for five consecutive years.

Asked in a multiple-answer question why they did not read a book, a 44 percent said they did not have time. Thirty-five percent answered they used public libraries during the past year, compared with 40 percent in a survey conducted a year earlier.

The survey was conducted on 3,000 voters chosen from 250 locations through interviews.

Of the respondents, 1,600, or 53 percent, offered valid answers. Forty-seven percent of the respondents were men and 53 percent were women.

By age group, 6 percent of the respondents were in their 20s, 12 percent in their 30s, 16 percent in their 40s, 17 percent in their 50s, 24 percent in their 60s, and 24 percent were 70 or older.

By location, 23 percent were residents in major cities—23 wards of Tokyo and government ordinance-designated cities. Seventeen percent were residents of regional core cities with a population of at least 300,000, 24 percent lived in midsize cities with 100,000 to under 300,000 people, 26 percent resided in small cities with under 100,000 people, and 10 percent lived in towns and villages.

Figures have been rounded off to the nearest decimal point, thus total figures in the chart do not necessarily add up to 100 percent. Zero percent means under 0.5 percent.


Some public libraries are trying to provide a wider range of services, while others prioritize securing money to buy books due to general budget cuts. Libraries are struggling to find the best way to operate their services.

In the Yomiuri survey, 46 percent of respondents said they have read books in the past month, down from 48 percent last year. The figure has been hovering near the 50 percent line since 1995, when this question was first presented in a Yomiuri survey. The latest figure was the lowest since 2002, when the percentage was the same.

The poll was taken prior to this year’s Book Week, which started Sunday.

When asked about the number of books they read, 18 percent of respondents said one, 11 percent two and 9 percent three. The rank order was the same as last year’s result.

The percentage of respondents who had not read a book at all was 53 percent, up from 51 percent last year. Among respondents in their 30s, the percentage was 49 percent, which was the same as the record high in 2002.

As for the reasons why they did not read books, 69 percent of respondents in their 30s and 40s said they did not have time.
The figures are the highest among all age groups, suggesting that these groups may be busy working and raising children.

Among respondents aged 70 or older, the highest percentage of respondents, at 35 percent, said they did not read books due to health reasons.

The latest survey also asked how rapidly proliferating use of smartphones has affected people’s reading time.

Among respondents who use smartphones for purposes other than phone calls, 17 percent replied their reading time has decreased since the time they began using smartphones.

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