The Nameless Horror

3 In 10 Stories Can Misreport Book Stats

I keep seeing repostings of stories in the Bookseller and elsewhere reporting on the National Literacy Trust report on book ownership and reading enjoyment.

"3 in 10 households don’t own a single book!" scream either the headlines or the people retweeting/refacebooking this.

None of whom, I assume, have read the report, because this is balls and I wish you’d all shut up about it.

3 in 10 children/teenagers (the range is 8-17) in the survey say they do not have books of their own. The percentage is actually 66.8% saying they do, almost spot on two thirds, but since everyone bounces the … in 10 figure, let’s stick with that.

(Despite this, nearly 50% of those who don’t own books of their own still read a book at least once a week, only ~15% lower than those who do.)

The actual household figures? 0.6% of “we have books of our own” kids say there were no books at all in their home (suggesting that 0.6% of them were just making up any old toss), compared to 9.4% of those in the “we don’t have” category. 9.4% of that 33.2% category is close to 3% of the overall.

3% of households have no books in them. Or, to put it in headline language, 3 in 100.

This is still sad, but everyone can now please put a big fucking sock in your outrage at the non-existently poor state of book ownership in the UK. Thank you.

Edit to add: Oh, and ~9% of homes overall apparently have more than 500 books in them. I leave it for you to decide if there may have been any reporting issues when participants were giving data for this study.