Mobile Reading Data and Insights

Mobile devices are tools that help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills. Through Worldreader Mobile, our mobile reading application, we are spreading and cultivating reading by making access to books ubiquitous via devices people already own: their mobile phone. The below data and insights from our research show how we're getting more people everywhere to read.

UNESCO Report: Reading in the Mobile Era

Worldreader Mobile and its users were the subject of the first-ever study of mobile reading habits in the developing world. In cooperation with Nokia and Worldreader, UNESCO surveyed 4,330 existing Worldreader Mobile users in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

More men have access to mobile reading in the developing world, but women with access read more.
# of ReadersReading Hours*
Percentage Breakdown of Worldreader Mobile Users by Gender

* Aggregate hours across entire sample population.

During the study period in 2013, the population of users reading on Worldreader Mobile was more than 75% male. However, nearly a third of reading time on the app was generated by women and girls.

Average Amount of Time Reading on Worldreader Mobile Each Month (Hours)

Male Users (Average)

0.55 Hours

Female Users (Average)

3.45 Hours

1 box = 1 hour. Average time spent in leisure and sports activities per 28-day month for Americans is 21.04 hours (BLS).

Mobile reading increases reading time across all media.

UNESCO asked Worldreader Mobile users the question “Thinking about how much you read across all mediums—paper books, newspapers, magazines, computers and mobiles—which of the following best describes you?” They responded:

One-third of mobile readers in the developing world use their phones to read stories to children.

UNESCO asked Worldreader Mobile users the question “Do you read books and stories aloud to young children from your mobile?” They responded:

Global and Digital Readers

Screenshot of our reading globe

On the first day of 2015, thousands of people, all over the world, were reading on their mobile phones.

With this cool interactive and 3D reading globe, created with Cameron Turner (@cturner50) of the Data Guild (@DataGuild), you can see where the Worldreader users were reading from and how much during the first 24 hours of 2015.

Check out the visualization:

Our Reading Globe

Mobile Reading Insights

How African Women Empower Themselves Through Mobile Phones

August 2017

Findings on the recent studies undertaken by Opera Software and Worldreader have discovered that women in Africa are as tech-savvy as men and that they use the internet for entertainment and self-development. Read more.

UNESCO Report: Reading in the Mobile Era

April 2014

This study is the first of its kind: it has investigated the demographics, attitudes, habits and preferences of mobile readers in developing countries. Mobile reading opens up new pathways to literacy for marginalized groups, particularly women and girls, and others who may not have access to paper books. Read more.

UNESCO Infographic: Reading in the Mobile Era

April 2014

Key takeaways from the Reading in the Mobile Era report in this infographic that shows how mobile technology can advance literacy and learning in underserved communities. Read more.