Findings will illuminate the efforts of the Literary Arts Community, Publishing Industry, and Books Retailers on ways to raise awareness for Singapore literature.


SINGAPORE, 11 MARCH 2016 – The National Arts Council (NAC) commissioned the first dedicated National Literary Reading and Writing Survey in 2015 to understand consumer psyche and trends in reading literary books and creative writing amongst Singaporeans. The research is part of the Council’s efforts to build knowledge of Singapore’s literary arts scene, and provide insights on Singaporeans’ current level of interest, attitudes and perceptions towards reading and writing.


2          The National Literary Reading and Writing Survey interviewed 1,015 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) aged 15 years old and above in March 2015. Surveys were administered island-wide through face-to-face, street intercept interviews conducted by trained interviewers.


3          Says Ms May Tan, Acting Director, Sector Development (Literary Arts), NAC, “It is heartening to note that Singaporeans are reading literary books and recognising the value in reading. NAC and industry players can draw on these insights to formulate strategies and recommendations that will further promote Singapore literature and encourage a deeper engagement in the literary arts.  One example is the formation of a Working Committee comprising key representatives from book publishers and retailers, literary organisations and NAC, to look into ways to boost awareness so as to encourage the consumption of Singapore literature.”



a) Frequency of Reading a Literary Book and Preference for Printed Books

4 in 10 Singaporeans (44%) had read a literary book in the past 12 months. The majority of readers prefer to read printed books and books in English. 1 in 4 readers read literary books by Singaporean writers. Around 2 in 5 readers cited lack of awareness of Singapore writers as one of the key reasons for not reading Singapore literature.


b) Profile of Literary Readers

Readership rates were highest among professionals and students with 6 out of 10 of these two respective segments having read a literary book. 3 out of 10 non-professionals read a literary book. Half of those aged 15 to 49 years old were literary readers compared to less than a quarter of seniors aged 60 years and above


c) Purchasing literary books habits of Singaporeans

4 in 10 Singaporeans generally buy their own literary books, with about 3 in 10 having bought at least 1 book over the last 12 months. The main channel for Singaporeans to obtain their literary books was through loans (library or other people) and gifts. Around 3 to 4 book buyers acquire their books from a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Book buyers were mostly motivated to buy books for their own leisure reading, and students were more likely to buy books if books had good reviews.


d) Popularity of Print and Electronic Books

Electronic versions of books (e-books) would not be driving print out of fashion any time soon. Readers who read solely print books outnumbered those who read e-books by a ratio of 5 to 1. E-books appeared to be the most popular among those aged 30 – 39 years (39% of this age group had read an e-book).There were 12% of readers who read books in both print and electronic versions.


e) Behaviour Insights into Reading, Social Media & Internet Pursuits of Singaporeans

Reading books appeared to have the edge over internet and social media since less than half (39%) of Singaporeans said they preferred the internet and social media.  However, 7 out of 10 non-readers said they preferred the internet and social media to reading books, with 6 out of 10 saying that the internet and computers would replace books in the next 20 years.


f) Values & Attributes Derive from Reading

Singaporeans understood that reading is beneficial. In particular, 80% of Singaporeans agreed that reading enabled people to learn new things and 72% believed that reading improved their quality of lives. More than 65% said reading was relaxing and made them feel good.


g) Reasons for Reading

Singaporean readers had mainly been motivated to read for leisure (59%). Placed at distant second were reading for knowledge (23%) and for personal development (20%).      


h) Awareness and Receptiveness Towards Reading Events

The top three most known literary events were the Singapore Writers Festival (16%), Read! Singapore (13%), and the SG Author series (8%). Word-of-mouth, newspapers, and the internet/websites were the most commonly cited sources of information for literary events.


i) Profile of Singaporeans who do creative writing

1 in 10 Singaporeans does creative writing. 12% of Singaporeans said they wrote creatively, and were motivated to do so for self-expression and relaxation. The older the person, the less likely he or she would be doing creative writing. For example, 21% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 years wrote compared to 8% of those aged 60 and above.


j) Reasons for Writing

The top three drivers for writing was self-expression (47%), relaxation (35%) and as a hobby (29%). Those who did not write creatively said it was due to lack of interest and lack of time. Men were more likely to cite the former, and women, the latter.


5          “This landmark Survey indicates that we are on the right direction to grow Singaporeans’ interest towards our home-grown writers and works. It affirms our thinking that Singaporeans have limited exposure to Singaporean authors and Singapore published titles. From this Survey, the Book Council has recently streamlined its programmes to focus more on the promotion of Singapore writers and books, especially fiction. This effort, together with similar programmes, organised by related professional literary institutions would help towards developing Singapore into a mature and an avid reading society.” added Mr R Ramachandran, Executive Director, National Book Development Council of Singapore.


6          Says Goh Eck Kheng, publisher of Landmark Books, “With the sustained growth of Singapore Literature over the last decade, publishers, authors, distributors and bookshops need now to work together to get more and more people to read and appreciate the stories and poetry that are distinctly our own.”


7          The full report will be made available to the public on the Council’s website soon.