Do we still read books during the pandemic?!

26.04.2021 5 Min Read
Do we still read books during the pandemic?!

In 2002, for the purpose to promote books and reading, UNESCO started a large-scale project – “World Book Capital” when one specific city is nominated each year to be designated as the world book capital. On April 23 of 2021, this honorable status was designated to our capital city and consequently, Tbilisi will turn into world book capital for a year.

We all agree that during the world pandemic, Coronavirus to some extent helped us to push forward topics that are top priorities for us. Each of us had different ways to balance aggravated stress level by means of relatively pleasant activities, however, the choice was limited by the pandemic. Fortunately, reading books is on the small list of activities which, together with gaining knowledge, is a great way to relax.

If we say that the pandemic changed life for many of us, logically the question arises – did it make in influence on our habit of reading books?! In reality, did this suddenly spared time pushed our society to read more or in contrary, elevated stress turned us into passive readers?!

“Consistently studying change in the behavior of readers is well-established practice all over the world. Georgian market also needs such constant monitoring, as collected information acts as a foundation for right development of the book market. This topic is particularly important during the pandemic, which made significant changes in publishing industry” –declares executive director of Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association, Tinatin Beriashvili.

In compliance with a joint request of Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association and House of Writers, ACT conducted a large-scale study on the Georgian book market, certain tendencies have been identified based on the study results.

  • Reading books once a year, once in 2-3 months or every day 

According to the study conducted in February of 2021, our society is divided into two exactly equal groups: half of respondents who managed read fictional or non-fictional literature in 2020 and the other half, who could not read even a single book throughout the year.

Study results also clarify that more than half (56%) of readers read books at least once a week, among them – 19% managed to read intensively – every single day; almost one fourth of respondents reported on reading quite passively – once in two-three months at maximum. Number of such passive readers is even bigger in regional cities compared to Tbilisi.

It was of course interesting to get an answer on one of the main questions and find out whether the frequency of reading changed during the pandemic. As it turns out, the pandemic did not make any impact on reading habits of half of our reader respondents, while one third of respondents “blamed” pandemic for reading more frequently. 15% of respondents noted that unfortunately, they can spare even less time to read books.

Readers manage to read averagely 13 books throughout a year (the list starts with Georgian and translated literature leaving books published in foreign language in the minority), however more than half of residents (55%) report on reading 1-6 books. The study tracked some differences between those living in the capital city and regions – number of books read by Tbilisi residents is two times higher than number of books regional residents read during a year.

  • Favorite in locked space – fiction 

It is interesting to find out what is major factor when selecting the book to read? How popular the book is or something else? 46% of inquired respondents are guided by recommendations of friends and family when selecting a book, 42% of respondents focus on the contents and annotation of the book while 31% of readers make choice on their favorite authors.

As the study demonstrated, a vast majority (86,5%) of respondents prefer to read fiction mainly, while 13.5% of respondents love reading non-fictional literature. The most actively read categories of fiction over the past 1 year include modern literature, classic literature and detective/horror/mystics. As for non-fiction, readers are mostly inclined to books covering historical, political and cultural thematic.

“The pandemic did not affect my choice of fiction I read” – days 9 out of ten inquired respondents. However, the pandemic drove the remaining 10% of readers towards science fiction/fantasy/utopic and detective/horror/mysticism.

  • Where do we read, where do we buy 

It is quite logical that bookshops are prevalent among all other places where books are sold. Before the pandemic, 75% of readers would visit them, followed by the attendance rate on book fairs (18%). As for libraries, our respondents were even less active in visiting libraries. Not to say anything about the pandemic period, 77% of respondents did not have experience of visiting libraries even before, which they mostly explain with lack of time and need.

We were interested to find out what respondents think about updating their personal library in near future. According to the results, 14% of respondents are less likely or completely exclude the possibility of buying books this year. However, it’s not that bad, because 6 out of ten readers (64%) are still ready to visit places where books are sold, half of them (31%) are sure of it.

Regardless of the turbulent zone we are all in now, fortunately, books are still in demand and readers still intend on buying them. As it turns out, this new pace of life did not make any significantly negative impact on reading habits. However, it is impossible not to notice that half of residents cannot read books at all. This makes it even clearer and obvious, that habit of reading books needs to be encouraged and promoted.

As noted by consultant of international projects at House of Writers – Natia Lursmanashvili – “House of Writers is a living organism and publishers as well as readers are its beneficiaries. Accordingly, change of their behavior over the recent years (including the influence of the pandemic) is directly connected to defining future strategy of the organization”. 

* Survey was conducted through random sampling among 1000 adult (16+) residents of Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Telavi, Gori and Zugdidi in February of 2021. Utilized method – FTF interview. Statistical error of data does not exceed 4.4%.  

Author: Ketevan Mamadashvili


Featured Insights

Curfew and other regulations in everyday life that are focused on limiting the spread of virus and prevention still remain topical. After the end of critical second wave, regulations set in force by the government throughout Georgia are gradually lightened, but curfew after 9 p.m. still remains as a painful topic for Tbilisi residents among restriction of the movement of public transport on holidays and online format of educational institutions.

After severe epidemiological situation, virus outbreak and increased death rate as well as high pressure on the healthcare system that occurred during the second wave, the government does not hurry to completely lighten regulations set in force.

ACT conducted another interesting research on this topic covering the residents of Tbilisi. As a result of the study, it turns out that as assessed by Tbilisi residents, in the process of managing epidemiological situation the government is not completely effective, particular criticism came from 18-34 year-old residents of the capital city, their assessment of the government’s effectiveness is 5.25 on 10-point scale. In addition, every second (51%) respondent from this age group believes that the measures taken by the government are too strict compared to the severity of the epidemiological situation.

Loyalty of citizens in assessing effectiveness of the government in managing the pandemic situation increases along with the age, 55+ Tbilisi residents believe that the government effectively manages epidemiological situation (6.12) and measures taken by the government are relevant to the epidemiological condition. Overall, Tbilisi residents rated effectiveness of the government with 5.75 points, while opinions split when assessing the strictness point – almost half of respondents (45%) believe that measures taken by the government are relevant, while the other part (43%) declare that measures are too strict compared to the severity of situation. This assessment does not coincide with Georgia’s rating on the Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker, where the country is on the second step (75-85) of strictness on 100-point scale.

What do Tbilisi residents believe is the most important regulation in the process of fight against the pandemic and which regulation is the hardest to fulfill for them?

As believed by inquired respondents, top three most important regulations against the pandemic are: 1. Restriction of entertainment and cultural events and ceremonies (6.56), 2. Restriction on international flights (6.50) and 3. Restriction on visiting restaurants and food places (6.32). The picture is different for different generations – in 35-55 age group, restriction on visiting restaurants is replaced by the curfew, in addition, this regulation appeared to be lighter than others for 55+ Tbilisi residents, while the most painful regulation is restriction (6.06) of public transportation. 

Residents in 34-55 age group believe that the hardest regulation is closure of kindergartens, schools and universities and switching to online format, because logically, number of parents is prevalent in this generation who have to personally cope with this regulation. This generation also painfully perceive restriction on international flights which is also explained by active travelling. Among all the regulations set in force by the government, millennials name regulations associated with socialization as the most important restriction, this imply restriction of entertainment and cultural events, international flights and visiting restaurants.

The study clarifies that youth agrees with parents’ generation on restriction of study process at educational institutions and also are disappointed because of the curfew which is related to active night life lived by this generation. In addition, 18-34 year-old youngsters perceive the said regulation as less effective in the fight against the pandemic similar to restriction of domestic transport and winter resorts in the winter. Such attitude demonstrates that young people do not perceive those three regulations as effective and have high expectations they will be abolished soon. They think that in active fight against the pandemic, it is important to set regulations on entertainment and cultural events, international flights and educational institutions.

The government of Georgia already announces additional relieve of restrictions, presumably, the country’s index on Strictness Tracker will change from March.


The inquiry was conducted through random sampling with 414 adult residents of Tbilisi on February 16-18 of 2020. Utilized method – telephone interviewing. Statistical error of data does not exceed 4.9%.


The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected people’s lifestyle and financial condition. According to the study conducted in the end of 2020, in the month of December, 60% of respondents reported on worsened financial condition of their family. 34% of respondents believe that their financial condition has not changed, while 3% reported on improved financial situation.

Cutting costs is noticeable in the perspective of monthly expenses, during the pandemic, 47% of respondents spend less than before the pandemic. 30% of respondents spend the same amount of money as they used to before the pandemic and 23% of respondents now spend more than before the pandemic.

It is worth mentioning that the majority of respondents – 34% now spend more on food and beverages. 27% of respondents now spend more on household essentials (detergents, hygiene, self-care items), as for the healthcare costs (doctor, tests, medications), the 27% of respondents now spend more. the majority of respondents (75%) explain that they have to spend more because prices of products went up.

Every second respondent now spends less on transportation (transportation fee, fuel). As for large purchases (apartment, summer house, furniture, car, household appliances), six out of ten potential buyers avoid making large purchases.

The inquiry was conducted through random sampling with 403 adult residents of Tbilisi on December 11-13 of 2020. Statistical error of data does not exceed 4.9%. Utilized method – telephone interviewing.