• 40% of prolific readers read at least 20 hours a week, or three hours a day
  • Of the most prolific readers, a staggering 75% are female
  • Prolific readers buy an average of 60 eBooks a year and 16 print books a year

LONDON, DATE: This week the most influential people in publishing gather at London Book Fair to discuss the year ahead for books, and Rakuten Kobo, one of the world’s largest eReading businesses, has unveiled its study which details the habits of the readers who power the growth of the book industry.  

Rakuten Kobo’s findings suggest that the most prolific ebook readers also continue to read in print, with customers buying an average of 5 ebooks a month as well as 16 print books a year. This suggests that rather than print and eBooks being in direct competition, they coexist within a larger reading ecosystem. 

Of the most prolific readers*, 75% are women and romance is by far the best-selling category, accounting for more than twice the number of units as the next best-selling category, fiction. On average, prolific readers read romance for almost 90 minutes daily.

Kobo has found that uptake in digital reading is driven by middle-aged people, with over three-quarters of the most prolific readers aged 45 and above, with the largest single group (30%) comprised of those aged 55 to 64, making eReading the first technological revolution being driven by 45 and older, rather than younger generations.

How different age groups prefer to receive reading recommendations can make a huge difference to how publishers choose to market their books. For example, 65 plus are almost twice as likely to buy their next book purchase based on a traditional critic’s review than 16 to 24 year olds. Unsurprisingly, 33% of 18 to 24 year olds prefer to use social media, whilst only a tiny 8% of 65 and above do. Across all ages, personal recommendations from friends are the most persuasive, with 58% confirming this is how they choose their next book.

Looking at the libraries of these avid digital readers we can also verify that they open 77% of the books in their library and complete 60% of those. In contrast, average readers open an average of 60%, and only complete 40% of the books in their libraries, meaning that on average a digital reader buys almost twice the amount of books that they read from cover to cover.

While the majority of recommendations come from friends, family, booksellers or reviewers, a quarter are based on those driven by algorithms (24%), which are constantly being improved. Since the beginning of 2016, Kobo has seen a 60% increase in sales on titles generated through data-driven recommendations and related-reading suggestions.

“These book-buyers, the ones who have put reading at the centre of their lives, are the engine that drives the industry,” comments Michael Tamblyn, Kobo CEO. “So our understanding of who the most prolific readers are, how they read and what they are reading shapes not just our business but where Kobo invests and builds for future growth. As we continue to meld algorithms and machine learning with passionate book experts, we get better and better at finding a reader’s next perfect book, which is great for readers, authors and publishers alike.”

* ‘Prolific readers’ refers to Kobo customers who spend the most time reading – at least an average of 30 minutes every day.




About Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 4.7 million eBooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides consumers with a choice when reading. Kobo offers an eReader for everyone with a wide variety of E Ink eReaders to suit any Reader’s style including the award-winning Kobo Touch™, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura H2O, Kobo Aura HD – and the newly launched Kobo Glo HD. Along with the company’s free top-ranking eReading apps for Apple®, BlackBerry®, Android®, and Windows®, Kobo ensures the next great read is just a page-turn away. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world. For more information, visit


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