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The Literacy Ledger Reflections, findings, stories and the lowdown

Top Books Read By Worldreaders In 2018

February 19, 2019 By

Books that keep people reading

Every year we strive to get to know our readers better  – what sets them apart, what gets them reading and, most importantly, what keeps them reading. Having a better understanding of our readers enables us to bring them a stronger library of books, acquired and curated for their tastes. This matters. It goes without saying that in order to get people to fall in love with reading, they need to love the books that are available to them.

To understand what books were most engaging in 2018, we looked at our mobile readership and the books that were most finished or almost finished by our readers. Here’s what we found.

Our top ten ranked books for 2018:

Afi and the Magic Drum
New Africa Books, South Africa

A Heart Divided
Nicola Thornton, United Kingdom

Plus or Minus
PushPen Press, United Kingdom

Fati and the Old Man
Osu Children’s Library, Ghana

A House for a Mouse
Book Dash, South Africa

Sex: You Decide When You Are Ready
UK National Health Service, United Kingdom

Lying for Love
FunDza Literacy Trust, South Africa

Come Back, Cat!
Book Dash, South Africa

I am a Person! I am me!
Strategic Book Group, United States

It’s a Love Story
Naija Stories, Nigeria

Short books keep people reading most

This list is dominated by children’s books and young adult books, with the average length of a book on this list being 3.65 standard pages*. When reading on a mobile phone, our users prefer short-form content. This is true of most activity on mobile phones. In 2016 it was reported that the average mobile session – defined as picking up and putting down the device – was 5 minutes. Users engage with their mobile phones in short, intense spurts and they expect their content experience to match that environment.  

In an effort to dig deeper, we wanted to know more about reading behavior in our two dominant categories: young adult and children.

 

Our top-ranked books in the young adult category:

A Heart Divided 1: A Love Story
Self-Published, United Kingdom

Plus or Minus
PushPen Press, South Africa

Friends Till the End
Story Shares, United States

A Heart Divided 4: Into Temptation
Self-Published, United Kingdom

A Heart Divided 7: Lump in the Throat
Self-Published, United Kingdom

A Heart Divided 10: A Lucky Escape
Self-Published, United Kingdom

A Heart Divided 6: On a Rollercoaster
Self-Published, United Kingdom

A Heart Divided 2: Day Dreams
Self-Published, United Kingdom

A Heart Divided 8: The Game of Love
Self-Published, United Kingdom

A Heart Divided 5: Revelations
Self-Published, United Kingdom

Young adults want serialized content

Serialized content is the overwhelming choice for our young adult readers, as A Heart Divided occupies 8 of the 10 spots on this list. Serialized fiction is defined as self-contained stories that fit into a larger plot line. The appeal of serialized fiction lies in the ability to not only be bite-sized and digestible but also enthralling with a larger story arc. Our readers’ interest in serialized fiction matches global trends and investment from publishers worldwide. For example, Serial Box is a new platform that takes elements from television production to revamp the serialization model in order to deliver content to readers in a form and length that fits their daily routines. Meeting readers where they are is perhaps one of the biggest value-adds of digital content.

 

Our top-ranked books in our children’s category:

Afi and the Magic Drum
New Africa Books, South Africa

Fati and the Old Man
OSU Children’s Library, Ghana

A House for a Mouse
Bookdash, South Africa

Come Back, Cat!
Bookdash, South Africa

I am a Person! I am me!
Strategic Book Group, United States

Quien soy yo?
Farfaria, United States

En el zoológico
Farfaria, United States

Jungle Ka School
Pratham Books, India

Why is Nita Upside Down?
Bookdash, South Africa

Fat King Thin Dog
Pratham Books, India

Local content is king

What shines through here is the strength of local content with early readers. The lion’s share of our top-ranked children books are from our readers’ markets. The power of “seeing yourself in the story” for a young reader is a trend that holds validity across platforms.

Content and format are not mutually exclusive

Our 2018 engagement data revealed something important: the relationship between content and format and what characteristics break those boundaries. Readers want a reading experience that fits the environment of the device they are reading on. Mobile reading is perhaps what the name suggests  – reading on the go, consuming stories during those in-between moments. Figuring out how to offer the best content for this type of reading will be important. For our young readers, we are reminded once again that localization is key. If a good book is defined as a book that wants to be read, then we are on our way to understanding what enthralls our readers and how we can provide those books.   

How we measure engagement

In years past, we have looked at our top books through the lens of how many times a book was opened. This metric revealed high-level trends, like the overwhelming popularity of romance. This year we wanted to go further and measure top books in terms of engagement. Engagement is the difference between a browser and a reader. What are the books that our users are reading and what do those books have in common?

This year we came up with a ranking system. Every book in our mobile collection is assigned a rank based on the extent to which it engages readers, focusing on the proportion of readers who finished or almost finished the book. The rank formula takes into account the length of the book and weighs this data point proportionately.

 

* A standard page mirrors the 1500 character count of a standard page in a print chapter book (not to be confused with the standard children’s book which has far fewer characters on a standard page – between 30 and 50 characters per page).