Australia Council & Macquarie Survey results

The survey results from the Australia Council and Macquarie University three-year study of Australians’ reading habits are now available on the Australia Council website. It found that word of mouth was the most frequent physical source of information about reading material, and online book retailers and publishers the most common online source. Most readers mix digital and conventional means of reading, and that they read much more than book sales would suggest.

The study also found that 71% of Australians (over the age of 14) believe it’s important for Australian children to read books set in Australia and by Australian authors. See more on the Australia Council website.

Leisure reading on an e-book

Interesting article from ChanLin Lih-Juan  who compared university students’ use of e-book features for both academic and leisure reading, and found that e-book features were most valued for academic reading. See Lih-Juan, ChanLin (2013) “Reading strategy and the need of e‐book features”, The Electronic Library, Vol. 31 Issue: 3, pp.329-344, doi: 10.1108/EL-08-2011-0127.

Decline in e-book reading considered the end of a trend

Recent British Publishers Association’s figures show that consumer e-book sales have fallen by 17% while print book sales have risen by 8%. The Guardian attributes this to a changing trend, arguing that when the Kindle was first launched it was new and exciting, but now it looks ‘clunky’ and ‘unhip’. The problem with this argument  is that it risks overlooking some more substantial issues in the reading experience with e-books. The Australian teens we interviewed were far less concerned with how they appeared when reading on devices than they were with the actual quality of that experience. They often mentioned that for a range of reasons, reading in print was more fulfilling than reading on screen. Rarely were they concerned with the appearance of their e-book reader.

Re-thinking screen time

US publications such as Time and Forbes  are reporting on revisions of the American Academy of Pediatric’ guidelines for children and screens, in recognition of the growing variety of screens and the uses to which they’re now put. It is hard, reports Time, ‘for the AAP to say definitively … that playing smartphone games is bad and using educational tablets is good’. With a comment that will resonate with many of the teenagers in our survey, the AAP suggests parents keep an open mind: ‘Time spent in front of screens or devices isn’t inherently good or bad … Like everything else, it’s really about the content and how you engage with it’ (Time, Vol. 188, no. 19, 2016: 16).

Associate Professor Andrew Singleton

Andrew Singleton joined our group in October 2016. Primarily a sociologist of religion, Andrew has worked on projects on young people’s spirituality. He is also skilled in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and mixed methods. We’re very happy that he’s agreed to join the Teen Reading project.

Planning intensive

Last week, the research group met at the Deakin City Centre to pore over the data we’ve collected and put together a dissemination strategy for 2017. We also welcomed Associate Professor Andrew Singleton to the group. Andrew showed us what the data looks like in SSPS and helped think about ways to use it.

With Margaret in Perth, two relatively new members of the group (Catherine and Andrew)  and our various teaching and administration commitments, this is the first chance we’ve had to work together in this way. It was a very productive meeting, with 9-10 papers planned that span our different disciplines. It looks as though there’ll be plenty of activity in 2017.


About the teen reading project

Welcome to the teen reading blog. Here, our research team shares with interested stakeholders information about our research into teen reading practices as it unfolds.

Little is known about how digital media devices are shaping Australian teenagers’ reading culture. The teen reading research project gathers and analyses current data on Australian teenagers’ use of digital and print platforms for recreational reading across a range of places and contexts. In 2016, our team  is surveying 600 13-16 year olds in two states (WA and Victoria) to find out about what, how and where they read, with whom and how they discuss what they read and what influences their reading for pleasure.

The survey investigates how ‘books’ are sourced and explores the geographic,
economic and cultural factors that constrain teenagers’ reading choices. The project is designed to be of benefit to educators, librarians, publishers, youth programmers and other book industry practitioners.