Brits resist the lure of digital books because they love turning the pages of hard copies

Book me in for a classic.

A study a selection of Brits revealed that despite being able to read stories on tablets, phones, Kindles and listen to audiobooks, more than two thirds still opt for a paper or hardback book. Nearly half of those (46 per cent) like to be able to physically turn the pages while 42 per cent prefer the feel of it in their hands.

A quarter also admitted they love the smell of a book, 32 per cent feel they get more immersed in the story of a physical book and 16 per cent are reminded of libraries. But after bookshelves became a popular backdrop for video calls during the lockdowns, 35 per cent also admitted to preferring physical books as it meant they could add it to a bookcase.

The research, commissioned by Oxfam, found that despite the digital revolution, just 16 per cent prefer to read an E-book while less than six per cent turn to audio stories. It also emerged the average adult currently owns 49 paper or hardback books and reads for around three hours a week.

“People prefer to read physical books because they offer something more tangible and grounded. There’s something that can feel more “permanent” about real books over digital formats. Reading offers us a form of escapism. It provides us with a break from our everyday lives, and often also, an opportunity to learn something new and expand our minds.” – Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, who is working with Oxfam

The study also found nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) readers claim a good book helps them to relax, with 46 per cent using it to escape from the real world. But more than three in 10 simply read books to learn something new while 39 per cent do so to feel happy.

Nearly half (45 per cent) also admitted to reading more books than usual since the start of lockdown, while 84 per cent of those heading off on a holiday this summer will take a book with them. After the boom in reading, three quarters said they are considering donating books once they have read them, with another 72 per cent often buying a used book themselves. The poll also showed books are the item people are most likely to buy second-hand, with 71 per cent doing so because it’s cheaper, while 52 per cent like that it’s more environmentally friendly.

Others like reading pre-loved books because of the smell (18 per cent), texture (18 per cent) and knowing that you might find a letter or note inside (15 per cent). And 45 per cent like to think about where second-hand books have come from. The research, carried out via OnePoll, found 49 per cent of adults often buy second-hand items with books, car, clothes, CDs, and DVDs at the top of the list.

More than half of Brits feel buying second-hand items is just as good as buying new with 59 per cent saying it is more appealing now than it used to be.

“Purchasing second-books can provide us with feelings of connection. Knowing that someone else’s hands have held the very same book – and hopefully, enjoyed it as much as we have – can help us to feel more connected.” Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist

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