The Swiss are readers, according to the latest federal statistics: 80 percent get through at least a book a year, while one in three is finishing a book a month.
Whether a sign of cultural sophistication or old habits dying hard, the figures releasedexternal link by the Federal Statistics Office (OFS) on Monday show that the printed word is definitely not dead.
Book reading, which 83% of the population profess to doing (even if it’s just the Christmas stocking bestseller each year) remains the third source of ‘media’ in Switzerland, behind watching movies/television and listening to music.
In fact, the overall statistics show that more people are book readers than are internet trawlers: online surfing of news and information actually came in behind the printed word, as did the playing of video games.
And, in another result that might dampen the spirits of the novelistic Cassandras, the e-book has not been hugely replacing, or deplacing, the hardback. If 15% of the population say they use e-readers, only 2% have completely converted.
Battle of the book
Internationally, Switzerland compares favourably. It performs slightly higher than neighbours Germany (79%), Austria (73%), and France (73%), and much higher than southern neighbour Italy (53%).
The European frontrunners, however, are Sweden and the Netherlands, where 90% and 86% of the population, respectively, describe themselves as readers.
The figures were collated and presented by the OFS in the framework of a thematic inquiry into language, religion, and culture. They represent the feedback of about 16,500 people, all over the age of 15.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/dos