The World Cup Effect

How the Planet’s Biggest Sporting Event Changed Our Reading Habits

Posted by Kobo Reads July  15, 2014

For the last 31 days, The World Cup has dominated the public consciousness.  With the top national squads fighting it out for global supremacy and nearly a billion people watching worldwide, no one has been safe from the gravitational pull of the games.

Not even readers.

To investigate the “World Cup Effect,” (the phenomenon that forces book lovers to flock to soccer-related reads) Kobo looked at the reading habits of five fanatic football nations: Brazil, England, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands over the last month.  This is what we found:

  • Brazil: The World Cup host country was reading the A grande historia dos mundiais series, chronicling World Cup tournaments throughout the last eight decades, as well as A copa como ela é and Quando é dia de futebol, both of which examine the political history of the World Cup and soccer generally in Brazil. Ever a country of contradiction, Brazilian readers are at once able to revere their beloved “futebol” at the same time as they lament its impact on society and politics.
  • England: Meanwhile in Britain, Premier League football biographies ruled with Queens Park Rangers manager and former player Harry Redknapp’s autobiography Always Managing as well as a biography about him (Harry Redknapp: The Biography) driving sales in the category. Notably, former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson’s recent smash hit autobiography didn’t crack the top five.
  • Italy: In Italy, readers were looking for bite-size essays about the beauty of global football (Pezzi da 90) and national favourite football club Juventus (1001 storie e curiosità sulla grande Juventus che dovresti conoscere). And like every other country but Britain, Italians took a peek into the dark corners of football with Te lo do io lo scoop.
  • Germany: The Germans have had scarcely any time to read between matches and celebrations, and not surprisingly have gravitated to books of short stories, including Die 100 besten Fußball-Stories, -Spiele, and -Tore, a series of 3 books about great moments in soccer history.
  • The Netherlands: Like the Brazilians, the Dutch were reading about the dark side of football, getting into titles that include Voetbal en maffia and Fifa maffia. But they also perused a study into Amsterdam-based AFC Ajax’s recent history, Tussen godenzonen, the country’s top seller in the category.
  • Huge Anticipation: Weekly Sales of soccer eBooks nearly doubled the week the World Cup started (up 88%) but fell off sharply throughout the tournament as fans found the matches competing for their leisure time.
  • The Elimination Effect: In terms of sales volume of soccer eBooks, Italy surged more than 2x in the four weeks prior to the World Cup while fellow early eliminatee, England, saw soccer eBook sales drop during the same period. After both countries suffered early exits, these trends continued—Italian fervor for soccer-related eBooks persisted while Brits read less soccer-related content than usual.

As soccer lovers around the world deal with their collective World Cup hangover, there remains, for many, comfort in a book. With thousands of great soccer-related titles in the Kobo library (and growing), the party never has to end for fans of the “beautiful game!” 

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