Reading is on the rise during lockdown, finds Amazon India
As Amazon Book Bazaar, the marquee book event from Amazon India, completes a year – with the anniversary edition of the sale going on from June 10 to 14 – we are excited to share some interesting trends with you.
The past year, as you know, had millions, may be even billions, of people stay inside their homes for months at a time. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and lifestyles in the last year. In fact, the initial months of the nationwide lockdown in India (from March 2020) witnessed interesting trends in food and lifestyle - from Delagona Coffee and Banana Bread to home-workout regimes and vegetable gardening tips.
Amazon Book Bazaar has been our flagship monthly event. We are excited that customers, publishers, and sellers have shown great support for this initiative over the last 12 months.
A pleasantly surprising trend that Amazon India noticed was how the new stay-at-home lifestyle encouraged more people to go back to the habit of reading. (After all, there is only so many shows you can watch and online games you can play!) And this is not just those who have always been passionate readers – the 25% increase in new customers from non-metro (tier 2/3) cities post lockdown is proof that the ‘new normal’ includes a healthy habit of reading for many who hitherto rarely picked up a book!
Another welcome development in this regard is the major rise in demand for books in Indian languages – 70%! Malayalam authors KR Meera and Benyamin, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan (of One Part Woman fame), and Kannada author Vivek Shanbhag (of Ghachar Ghochar fame) are among the noted names in regional language story writers on Amazon India.
Children join the book club
Books are also apparently the favourite option for parents to keep their children engaged at home. Not that books and stories can replace the joy of playing with your friends in a park, or listening to your grandmother’s bedtime stories during those much-awaited vacations; but the 70% increase in the sale of children’s books on Amazon India in the past 11 months shows that children are happily taking up to this alternative.
While veteran authors like Sudha Murthy, Geeta Dharmarajan, and Ruskin Bond, continue to be the favourites of India’s youngest readers, a new generation of children’s authors like Anushka Ravishankar, Rachna Chabbria, and Sharika Nair, are also becoming household names. As a matter of fact, Amazon India sold more than 80,000 units of children’s box sets during our 2020 Diwali sales event. We have noticed that the trend has continued since, making boxsets a preferred gifting option of our customers.
Sudha Murty, who was also Amazon Book Bazaar’s author of the month calls upon children to read more. “Kids, you have plenty of time now, because of Covid and lockdown. Don’t waste that time. Convert that time into making reading a habit. Books are your never-failing friends, and they always help you when you’re alone,” she has said in a message to the young readers on Amazon India.
Books for happiness
With the pandemic causing a mental health challenge to millions, we also noticed that people are reaching out for help through books too. Ikigai – a self-help book by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, which focuses on the Japanese way of happy living – was the most sold book on Amazon India in the last 11 months.
Pragya Sharma, Director of Media Business, Amazon India, says, “Amazon is committed to its long-term responsibility to cultivate reading as a habit. In this pursuit, Amazon Book Bazaar has been our flagship monthly event. We are excited that customers, publishers, and sellers have shown great support for this initiative over the last 12 months. We will continue to partner with sellers, publishers, and authors across industry to showcase & curate books for creating a nation of readers," she adds.
As Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of noted novels like The Palace of Illusions and The Forest of Enchantments, and Amazon India’s another Author of the Month, reminds us, reading brings us so much solace at times like this. We cannot think of a better time to sit down with a book!