Estonians are the most avid readers in the European Union

Estonians spend on average more time reading books than any other nation in the European Union.

A survey carried out in 15 EU countries between 2008 and 2015 shows that the average time spent reading books ranges from 13 minutes per day in Estonia and 12 minutes in Finland and Poland to two minutes per day in France and five minutes in Italy, Austria and Romania. Conducted by Eurostat, the survey covered the age group 20 to 74.

The number of people whose main activity is reading, is highest in Finland (16.8% of the population), followed by Poland (16.4%), Estonia (15.0%), Greece and Luxembourg (both 11.9%). At the opposite end of the scale, France (2.6%), Romania (6.2%), Austria (7.2%) and Belgium (7.9%) had the lowest share of respondents reading books.

In 2016, households in the EU spent over €90 billion (USD107 billion) or 1.1% of their total expenditure on books, newspapers and stationery, which is equal to 0.6% of the EU’s GDP, or about €200 (USD240) per citizen, the survey found.

The fact that Estonians read a lot may not come as a surprise – in a country of only 1.3 million people, one can find bookstores in any large shopping centre. Besides, several independent bookshops still survive in Tallinn and Tartu. Even more puzzling – considering the market size – is the number of publishers in Estonia, estimated at almost 900.


The cover image is illustrative (courtesy of Rahva Raamat).

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and politics and society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. You can write to Silver at