Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese are reading less, survey finds

LITERARY LEISURE If you've read this far into the newspaper, you are part of an increasingly elite group, according to a survey by `Common Wealth' magazine

STAFF WRITER

Taiwanese people spend an average of only 7.5 hours a week reading and around one-third spend less than NT$1,000 (US$29) a year to purchase books, a local magazine reported yesterday.

According to a survey on the public's reading behavior -- published yesterday in the latest issue of Common Wealth (天下雜誌) -- the most popular leisure activity in Taiwan is "watching TV."

Of the 1,093 respondents, 27.9 percent said they like to watch TV in their free time, while 22.8 percent and 19 percent said that they enjoy outdoor activities and sports, respectively. "Reading" is ranked No. 4 in this category, with only 15.1 percent saying they like to read.

According to the survey, conducted between Oct. 14 and Oct. 18, females enjoy reading more than males. Those between 41 and 50 years of age enjoy reading the most.

Taiwanese read an average of 2.8 books per month, according to the survey. Residents in Taipei City top the category by reading an average of 3.3 books per month, followed by residents of Taipei and Taichung counties -- both with an average of 2.8 books per month.

When it comes to elementary and junior high school students, reading ranked fourth as their favorite leisure activity, with about 16 percent listing it as their favorite. In addition, these students spend an average of 3 hours on reading extracurricular publications per week.

Almost 30 percent of them said that their favorite activity is playing computer games. About 23.3 percent said they prefer sports, and 17.2 percent said watching TV.

The magazine reported yesterday that as much as 60 percent of people read in order to "broaden their knowledge." Others read for their own pleasure or to increase particular skills. About 10 percent of respondents said they read in order to prepare for examinations.

According to the magazine, the average time spent reading has dropped from last year's 13.3 hours per week to this year's 7.5 hours per week.

The magazine said the decline should serve as a warning to society.

Many of Taiwan's major news-papers and magazines are cutting pages and laying off staff thanks to the economic downturn.

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