National Reading Survey

The primary aim of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) is to increase access to books in South Africa. This report describes the findings of robust research that uncovered the reading habits of adult South Africans from a variety of angles with a view to find change in patterns of reading behaviour and inform strategy for the SABDC to meet its core objective of increasing access to books.

How can you get involved?


Inspired by National Book Week turning 10 in 2019, the South African Book Development Council along with various organisations who are championing reading promotion in South Africa came together to collectively reconsider the way we approach reading promotion. As a result, a stronger push to promote the importance and value of the book was instituted.


About the SABDC

the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) is the representative body of the South African Book Sector. Its members include all key stakeholders in the book value chain.

What is Book Development?

The term was coined by UNESCO to cover the myriad range of people, processes and skills which go into the making and reading of a book. The need for book development is a condition not only for having more books created or output, but also different kinds of outputs to that which were previously produced as well as changes in the technical and institutional arrangements by which output is produced and distributed.

Does South Africa need book development?

Yes, we need more local books.

Yes, we need more indigenous language and diverse content books.

Yes, we need transformation and investment in the sector to better serve all South Africans.

The history of book development

In the mid-1960s, UNESCO held a series of regional meetings in Asia, Africa, the Arab States and Latin America to assess long-term book needs and assist in working out national policies and strategies to overcome the dearth of books in these areas. It was at these meetings that UNESCO also encouraged the formation of national book development councils which could play a key role in promoting and coordinating all areas of book development activity in harmony with overall national development.