JustBooks.co.uk, 'believed to be the largest second-hand specialist book platform in Europe', has conducted a survey of the nation's reading habits. After questioning 291 people (you may not think that's very many out of 60 million, but the interviews were 'in-depth' and 'face-to-face'), they have reached various intriguing conclusions. Having decided that excitement is the best measure, they found that 77.3 per cent of those questioned thought reading 'can be more exciting than watching a film', 81.8 per cent thought it could be more exciting than TV and, 'staggeringly', 23.7 per cent thought it 'can be more exciting than sex'. You could say that's a bit like trying to decide whether a kilo is bigger than an hour; but even so, it's slightly odd that 76.3 per cent of people think sex cannot (ever?) be more boring than reading. And what about reading about sex? Ah, statistics. The press release gives some details about the representative 291, claiming that 'the majority (42.3 per cent)' were aged between 21 and 35. How 42.3 per cent can constitute a majority is beyond me, but the thought that it might is a comfort when reading that 'sadly for reviewers . . . 41.9 per cent said they were not influenced by reviews': on the exciting platform of second-hand statistics, that's only 0.4 per cent short of a majority - perhaps they could form a coalition with the 5.5 per cent who said they don't know.
LRB 21 September 2000 | PDF Download