Due to the government mandated lockdown, many of us have an increase of free time in our homes. Whilst we are also required to still continue working, many people have now realised that our previous work-life balance was not well balanced enough. This has made people recognise how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle. A result of this lockdown is the increase for people using their leisure time to engage with their previous hobbies, including, but not limited to, reading.
The national office of statistics reported that in 2017 the majority of leisure time for both men and women was spent consuming mass media such as watching TV and listening to music. Reading was included in one of those of the mass media. Just by watching social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter when the lockdown first started many of us were exchanging shows to watch, giving each other detailed and dedicated lists of what to watch and why. For example, ‘If you loved Game of Thrones then you’ll love XYZ’. The Disney Plus subscription couldn’t have landed in the UK at a better time and for such a cheap price at the time. However, as the weeks drew on and uncertainty of the future creeped in, people began to buy books online seeking escapism.
British book retailer Waterstones had closed their physical shops but left online collections and delivery available at the start of the lock down, and they saw a sharp rise of 400% in its online sales. However adult non-fiction was down by 13% and an explanation is people wanted an escape from reality. This increase is a direct result of people recognising their free time after work but with a limit of where you can go, and wanting to do an activity that feels productive but requires minimal effort.
It’s not just adults who have started to pick up books more, as many bookstores saw a sharp rise of children’s educational books sold. Within the first two weeks of lockdown, books focusing on children’s education rose by 234%, and this figure is related to the closure of schools. Though, education was not the only category to see an increase in children’s literature. Subscription boxes for children also saw an increase, showing that many parents are hoping to include this new hobby into their life after quarantine. By encouraging reading through a difficult time like this, parents are showing their children how vital books are. For other adults it has made them realise how important books are for their own cultural enrichment.
For those who don’t want to read but still wish to lose themselves in a book, the company Audible (Parent company; Amazon) has created a bunch of children’s books to be available with no login required called ‘Audible Stories’. Lots of celebrities such as Dekota Fanning have also decided to record for Audible whilst in quarantine. Their normal subscription is still £7.99 for UK customers after their 30 day free trial, and if you are more interested in listening than reading then it may be worth giving it a go.
The question now is, will this hobby allow a steady rise after ‘stay at home’ orders are reduced or is it just prepping the book wholesalers for a crash in markets? Only time will tell, but for now it’s safe to say that many of us have our heads in a book and are enjoying them.