Why People Stop Reading a Book

I think a lot about books and writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some kind and now that I’ve self-published two novels, I’m desperately trying to get better at what I love to do. Besides getting reviews and feedback you think about what impact your books have on the reader. Do they understand the idea? Do they like the language? Which parts do they like and which do they don’t like? Are the characters clear and “real” enough? And of course: Did I lose them and if so, where?

The good folks at Goodreads asked themselves the same question and have now conducted a survey investigating that very question: What Makes You Put Down a Book? Below you find their stylish infographic…


I find it interesting that almost 20% think weak writing contributes because when you look at so many books out there – weak writing seems to be quite popular and doesn’t seem to have a major effect on the popularity of the book in question.

But the number one reason for people quitting a book isn’t surprising at all: “It’s because it’s slow/boring.”

People want to be entertained. That is a fact of life. And since reading is a “slow”, slightly laborious way of being entertained compared to watching a movie and playing video games, books already have an uphill climb before they can hook a person.

The number of published books every year is increasing at rocket speed now that everyone can write and publish a book, but I wonder if the number of people reading books do too. I guess there has always been this fear in the publishing industry that the number of people willing to invest time into reading a book keeps decreasing. What is the trend now? Does self-publishing and more books and the presence of e-readers like Kindles and Nooks counter that? How many people read on their mobiles? (37% according to a another Goodreads study, although it’s not super-scientific).

My feeling is that the possibility to read on mobile phones and the portability of e-readers should increase the interest in books and spread like wildfire. But of course, no matter how portable or easy to use the device is, the book still has to entertain and hopefully also raise a few thoughts. Otherwise you could just as well watch a movie, play video games or simply read another book.

Do you use digital devices for reading? And what kind of device? Please share your thoughts below! /J.