The Ministry of Culture yesterday reported that Taiwanese read an average of two books per year, a situation that worries Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said.
Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) presented a report on strategies to boost the nation’s publishing industry at a Cabinet meeting in Taipei yesterday.
According to the report, there has been a lack of interest in reading among Taiwanese and that interest is still declining.
On average, Taiwanese read two books per year, compared with 10 books per person per year in France; 8.4 books in Japan; 10.8 books in South Korea, 9.2 books in Singapore; between 10 and 15 books in Israel; and 15 books in Russia, the report said.
In 2010, Taiwanese spent an average of 4.7 hours reading per week, or 40.3 minutes a day, less than the average of 5.1 hours a week, or 43.7 minutes a day, in 2008, while the percentage of Taiwanese who never spend money on books increased from 45 percent in 2008 to 47.5 percent in 2010, it said.
Among those who do not buy books, 33.7 percent said in 2008 that they were not interested in reading. The ratio rose to 35.1 percent in 2010, it said.
The total expenditure of Taiwanese on books in 2008 was NT$1,374, or 0.29 percent of the nation’s average national income. In 2010, the amount was NT$1,536, also about 0.29 percent of the nation’s average income, it said.
With the increasing prevalence of the Internet, digital publishing and a growing Chinese publishing sector, local publishers face mounting challenges, Cheng quoted Jiang as saying at a press conference following the Cabinet meeting.
“What was all the more worrying was the nation’s poor reading habits,” Jiang said as he urged the Ministry of Culture to cooperate with the Ministry of Education to cultivate better reading habits, Cheng told reporters.
The strength of a nation lies in its publishing industry and other cultural industries, and nurturing good reading habits to enlarge the reading population is fundamental to sustaining the nation’s publishing industry, Jiang said.
Deputy Minister of Culture George Hsu (許秋煌) said the ministry would strive to help local publishers explore the Chinese market by asking China to lower tariffs on Taiwanese books during Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) negotiations.