South Koreans' purchase of printed books hit a record low in 2016, official data showed Saturday amid multiple signs that they are reading fewer books amid falling income and the growing use of mobile devices and web-based social networking services.
Households with two members or more spent an average of 15,335 won (US$13.25) a month for 2016, according to Statistics Korea. It represents a 7.7-percent drop from 16,623 won in 2015.
A culture ministry survey showed that the average price of a new book was 18,108 won last year. This means that those households here did not even buy one book a month.
South Koreans' monthly spending on book purchases has been on a steady decrease since reaching 21,902 won in 2010.
The trend seems partly attributable to a decline in income with inflation taken into account.
The monthly income of households here rose only 0.6 percent on-year to 4.4 million won last year, the lowest growth since related data were first compiled in 2009.
Especially, that of households with low income - the poorest 20 percent - plunged 5.6 percent to 1.44 million won.
Experts also cited a social trend. Just 65.3 percent of South Korean adults read at least one book in 2015, according to the ministry's poll.
"Adults appear to be staying away from traditional printed books in favor of Internet portals and digital content," Noh Myoung-woo, a professor at Ajou University in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, said. "The purchase of books for kids seems to be decreasing as well due to falling births." (Yonhap)