Mérida, April 24th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – According to a Reading Behaviour Study conducted jointly by the National Book Centre, the Venezuelan Book Laboratory, and Goya Consultancy, 50.2% of Venezuela’s population are book readers, with a preference towards history, politics, and social issues.
The study’s coordinator, Patricia Yanez revealed the results today in a press conference.
The figure places Venezuela in third place in Latin America, after Argentina with 55% and Chile with 51%, according to statistics from the Regional Centre for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean (Cerlac).
According to the study, 43% of Venezuelans are reading more than they did three years ago.
Further, currently 82.2% of the country is reading some kind of material, such as books, magazines, school texts, newspapers, or web pages.
“The interesting thing about this study is that it shows that people see books as a cultural asset, rather than in the utilitarian sense, they say they read for pleasure, as a hobby,” said Yanez.
55.6% of the reading population are women, and the distribution according to age was fairly even, with youth reading the most, at 21% of total readers, and 45-59 year olds the second most, with 20.3%.
In terms of economic classes, it was the lower sectors who read proportionately more. Classes were divided into 5 bands, where 1 was the wealthiest and 5 the least. 38% of readers came from band 4.
18% of the study’s sample said they had received free books from the state, equivalent to 3 million people. Of those, 81% said they had read the books.
The most common authors people cited were Romulo Gallegos, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Miguel Otero Silva, Pablo Neruda, and Isabel Allende. The most common books people were reading were the bible, Don Barbara, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Dead Houses, and Don Quijote de la Mancha.
For the 18% who don’t read, the main reasons cited were, in order, a physical impediment such as bad eyesight or motor or mental disabilities, lack of time, and lack of patience or understanding of the text.
70% of respondents said they felt the Venezuelan government was complying with its responsibility to encourage the habit of reading.
Christhian Valles, president of the National Book Centre said the study would help the government define future strategies for encouraging reading.
“Reading is important because it opens our eyes, it allows us to understand and to dream… and it should be accessible to all,” said Valles.
The study was based on a sample of 8,652 literate people over the age of 13 and from different regions of Venezuela.
Previously, reading was not an integral part of Venezuelan culture, and was seen as something only for the upper social classes. Reading in schools was taught as a chore rather than as something enjoyable.
Over the last decade the government has set up a range of initiatives to encourage and democratise reading and publishing, including annual book festivals, travelling libraries, its own publisher, El perro y la rana, which publishes books by Venezuelans from all economic classes and sells them at very low prices, as well as reading squadrons: small groups organised to promote reading within their community.