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2023 Rakuten Kobo eBook Report: TayTay, TikTok and Oppenheimer

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TAY TAY, BARBIE AND PRINCE HARRY WROTE NEW CHAPTERS FOR AUSSIE BOOKWORMS

The 2023 Rakuten Kobo Book Report: How and What Aussies Read

 

MEDIA RELEASE - Australia: Rakuten Kobo announces the results of its annual Kobo Book Report, sharing the latest Australian trends and notable reading habits that dominated 2023. From bestselling books, to the time of day when Australians turned the most pages and even how global events impacted reading choices, this year’s Kobo Book Report is a snapshot into how Australians read in 2023.

2023 was a big year for books, with Australians reading for the equivalent of nearly 1430 years, increasing by 119 years from 2022, as Aussies dove back into books in a big way. It’s not just flipping through the pages that excited Australians, they also spent a total of 66.8 years listening to their favourite stories. This was a significant increase of 27%, and supported by Kobo expanding its Kobo Plus subscription service to include audiobooks.

The lure of the inner workings of celebrity and royalty piqued the interest of Aussie book lovers, with celebrity autobiographies including Prince Harry’s Spare, Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights and Britney Spears’ The Woman in Me all featuring in the top 10 overall best-sellers for the year. 

“In troubled times, when people are feeling uncertain, they turn enthusiastically to reading. We’ve seen groundbreaking new releases and outstanding page-to-screen adaptations take the world by storm,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo. “We are delighted to note that our Australian readers are reading more and more often - everything from travel, self-help to mystery.”

A nation of night owls:

  • Nationally, Australians are night owls with the most popular time of the day for reading being 11pm
  • Interestingly, early birds saw the biggest growth with the number of readers hitting the books at 5am increasing by 33% YoY
  • NSW and VIC - read the most avidly at 9pm
  • SA and QLD - chose to hit the books at 10pm
  • WA was up the latest, with 11pm the most popular reading time for those on the west coast of Australia

The translation from pop culture to page:

There have been many pop culture moments in 2023 that have made waves globally, but how did these translate onto the page? The “Taylor Swift Effect” that bolstered economies and had marketing strategy seminars created to explain it, has also made its way to the bookshelf. eBbooks and audiobooks related to Taylor Swift saw a massive spike in July compared to last year, with sales increasing by 659%following the re-release of Taylor’s Version of popular album “Speak Now” and tickets going on sale for the Era’s tour in Australia.

In addition to the blonde pop music star, another famous blonde was making waves in the reading world. Barbie and Oppenheimer were an unexpected pairing, but one that took the world by storm. While Barbie blitzed the box office, how did the two fare on the page? While books about Barbie rose an impressive 13%, it was Oppenheimer that fans were more interested in reading, with a 638% increase in sales on books related to "Robert Oppenheimer" or the "Atomic bomb"

BookTok is driving sales for authors:

TikTok continues to take the publishing industry by storm, with recommendations from BookTok influencers on the social media platform being noted as a key driver of reading trends in Australia.

As fantasy and romance genres have taken BookTok by storm in 2023, series from Sarah J Maas, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Colleen Hoover were among the top titles that Australians were bingeing. 

Books adapted into TV shows and movies seeing a second wave of readers:

The trend of streaming to reading continued this year, with TV series and movie adaptations introducing a fresh audience to older books. Taking the story from the big screen to the book page has created renewed interest in titles including A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, following the release of the screen adaptation starring Tom Hanks and retitled A Man Called Otto. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Queen Charlotte by Julia Quinn also saw increased sales following the adaptations released to streaming.

Australians were more adventurous with their reading habits:

This year not only were Aussie’s ramping up their travel plans, they were also expanding their horizons within their reading habits. Most notably, Australians gravitated towards travel-related books, with a more than 81% rise in sales YoY for this genre. Surprisingly, Aussie’s were also feeling thrifty in 2023, with purchases for books on Antiques and Collectables increasing by 16% compared to last year. Books related to health and fitness and mind & spirit saw decreases of 34% and 19% respectively.

The top performing and highest selling genres in 2023 were:

  • Romance
  • Biography and Autobiography
  • Mystery
  • Business and Economics

Understanding the new frontier of AI:

Following the launch of ChatGPT4 and the widespread interest in Artificial Intelligence,  Australians turned to books for more information, with a 152% surge in purchases of AI related books compared to last year.

Kobo Listen subscription expands offering by adding audiobooks in Australia:

While the Kobo Plus all-you-can-read eBook subscription for just $13.99 per month has been in Australia since 2021, the service has expanded to audiobooks and now features read, listen, and read and listen options for $16.99.

“With Australians out of the house and on the move, we’re excited to expand the Kobo Plus subscription offering to include audiobooks so Kobo users can fit reading into more places and more moments throughout their day,” said Bart Robers, Director, Audiobook and Subscription, Rakuten Kobo. 

“We know life is busy, but there is always time for reading. Whether you’re cleaning the house, catching the bus to the office or standing in line at airport security, Australians can now enjoy unlimited reading and listening for a low monthly fee.”

The catalogue includes the best-selling biographies of Anthony Kiedis Mariel Hemingway and Buffy Sainte-Marie, fascinating mystery series by C.J. Archer, Rachel Lynch, Molly Black and Dale Mayer, and contemporary fiction by beloved authors including Elena Ferrante, Lynne McEwan, Louisa Scarr and Alice Hoffman.

Australia’s bestselling books of 2023:

Whether it’s trending fiction titles, the latest popular romance or the most talked about thriller book, this year Australian readers were loving female voices on the page and listening to celebrity autobiographies.

Top 10 ebooks: 

  1. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
  2. Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt, Lucinda Riley
  3. Fourth Wing, Rebecca Yarros
  4. Spare, Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex
  5. Yellowface, Rebecca F Kuang
  6. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin
  7. It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover
  8. The Bookbinder of Jericho, Pip Williams
  9. Verity, Colleen Hoover
  10. The Last Devil To Die, Richard Osman

Top 10 audiobooks:

  1. Spare, Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex
  2. Atomic Habits, James Clear
  3. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
  4. Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey
  5. Did I Ever Tell You This?, Sam Neill
  6. The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
  7. The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk
  8. The Bookbinder of Jericho, Pip Williams
  9. The Last Devil To Die, Richard Osman
  10. Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Matthew Perry

Key Facts:
  • Aussies read for 1430 years (up 119 years)

  • Most popular genre: Romance

  • Most popular reading time: 11pm

  • Biggest genre growth: Travel

  • Most popular reading day: Monday

  • Most popular date: April 25th

  • Most popular reading month: January

  • Most read ebook: Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus

  • Most popular audiobook: Spare, Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex

  • Oppenheimer beats Barbie in books


About us:

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is the world’s digital bookseller created by and for booklovers. Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten Group, Inc. and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo’s millions of worldwide users can read anytime, anywhere, and on any device. With a mission to make reading lives better for all, Rakuten Kobo connects readers to stories using thoughtful and personalised curation of eBooks and audiobooks, and the best dedicated eReaders and apps for reading. With the singular focus of making reading lives the best they can be, Kobo’s open platform allows people to fit reading into more moments in their busy lives. To learn more about Rakuten Kobo, visit www.kobo.com.


Contact details:

Tessa Dempster - 0415640665 - tessa@neon.black

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