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Australian novels the most popular choices amongst readers 

Australian and New Zealand readers favour books by local authors in Civica’s 2020 Libraries Index

Sydney, 25 May 2020: Bookworms are increasingly opting for homegrown stories and authors, with Civica’s 2020 Libraries Index revealing Australian authors made up more than half (60 per cent) of the top 20 borrowed books across ANZ. 

This is up from 2019 when Aussie writers made up just 40 per cent of the top 20 most borrowed books, according to the Index. 

The Index also reveals a shift in reader behaviour, as more readers borrow e-resources from libraries, including audio books and e-books, following forced closure of libraries during COVID-19. 

Topping this year’s list of most borrowed books is Australian Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel and soon-to-be television series, Nine Perfect Strangers. The story, which follows nine strangers as they embark on a journey of wellness increased its popularity - jumping from the 20th most borrowed book in last year’s Index.   

The Index, now in its fifth year, assessed borrowing data from more than 38 million loans across 90 regional and metropolitan libraries in Australia and New Zealand. Civica, provider of the cloud-based Spydus library management system to schools, TAFEs and local government, partnered with the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) to generate the index.

Australian stories and authors prove most popular 

The index reveals stories popular amongst readers are those set in Australia, with three of the top 20 books taking place in Brisbane, Sydney and rural Queensland. Jane Harper’s The Lost Man (ranked fourth), was a favourite among readers. The dark and suspenseful novel depicts the story of two brothers in outback Queensland. 

Australian Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, a coming-of-age story set in the housing estates in the fringes of Brisbane, ranked eighth. This was followed by Markus Zusak’s novel, Bridge of Clay (ranked ninth), which depicts the journey of five brothers living in Sydney as they search for the reason behind their father's disappearance. 

Jane Harper’s second novel, Force of Nature, which follows police officer Aaron Falk as he investigates a woman’s disappearance, also made the top 20 most borrowed books, coming in 20th. The book follows on from Harper’s hugely successful debut, The Dry. 

Australian crime writer, Michael Robotham’s novel The Other Wife ranked 11th by readers. It depicts the journey of a son as he launches an investigation into the death of his father and uncovers a secret life. Robotham also proved popular with his psychological thriller, Good Girl Bad Girl (ranked 18th), a suspenseful story that follows a forensic psychologist caught between two cases—one girl who needs to be saved, and another who needs justice. 

Spike in e-resources during COVID-19

The 2020 Civica Libraries Index also highlighted another shift in reader behaviour, as more readers borrowed e-resources from libraries, including audio books and e-books. A major library service experienced a 56 per cent increase in e-book loans in April and a 50 per cent increase in e-audio books. In another jurisdiction, ebook and e-audiobook unique users increased from just over 15,000 in April 2019 to over 25,000 in April 2020.

“Since libraries were forced to close due to the pandemic, reading and borrowing patterns have changed and we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of e-resources including audio and e-books borrowed by citizens across all age groups. From aspirational and self-help guides to crime, thrillers and historical fiction, books are a true form of escapism in this unprecedented time,” Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), says.  

The most popular audio books borrowed from libraries were non-fiction, with Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, taking out the top spot. This was followed by:

  • Scott Pape’s best-selling financial help guide, The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need (ranked second)
  • Mark Manson’s, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, dubbed this generation’s self-help guide to becoming a truly better and happier person (ranked third)

Linda Seymour, Manager Library Services from Cockburn Libraries in Western Australia says, “In terms of uptake since closure, we’ve had 50 per cent increase of e-loans in the first four weeks of closure compared to the monthly average for the rest of this financial year.”

Similarly, Trevor MacKay, Collections and Info Access Coordinator from Bayside Libraries in Victoria says, “Since our branches closed, we’ve seen notable increases in e-loans across all ages, including a 200 per cent increase of e-book loans by children and a 94 per cent increase in adult e-book reserves.”

Iain Finlayson, Managing Director of Libraries and Education Solutions at Civica, says libraries will continue to flourish beyond COVID-19 – as will demand for digital services. 

He says:

“Libraries have always been and will be an integral part of communities in a post-pandemic world. Not only as a form of escapism, but also as a means to keep connected with others during long periods of self-isolation. As restrictions start to ease across the country, we can expect citizen behaviours will change. It will continue to be essential for libraries to have in-person services, but they will also need to maintain the current digital presence as citizens’ new habit of borrowing e-resources continues.”

The 2020 Civica Libraries Index was compiled by analysing more than 38,000,000 loans across 90 Australian and New Zealand libraries using Civica’s Spydus between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020. Spydus is a cloud-based software system developed in Australia that enables more than 2,500 libraries around the world to meet the dynamic needs of today’s library members with the latest digital technologies. 

Index highlights

Most borrowed

Australian novels were a highlight of this year’s top borrowed books. 12 out of 20 of the most borrowed were penned by Australian authors. The top three most borrowed books written by local authors are Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers (ranked first), Jane Harper’s The Lost Man (ranked fourth) and Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need (ranked fifth)

Non-fiction

This year’s index reveals there is a strong appetite for aspirational and self-help or improvement books with Michelle Obama’s Becoming ranked first. This was followed by Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need and Leigh Sales Any Ordinary Day, highlighting how ordinary people endure the unthinkable and find resilience.  

Biography

Australian biographies remain popular amongst readers with Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee: The Extraordinary True Story of a Boy's Journey from Starvation at Sea to Becoming One of Australia's Best-loved Comedians, making the top ten most popular biographies. Other Aussie biographies include Richard Glover’s The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia (ranked sixth) and Bri Lee’s successful Eggshell Skull (ranked ninth), depicting her journey through the Australian legal system. 

Children and Young Adult books 

Self-help books were popular among young adults with Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor for Families: The Only Kids' Money Guide You'll Ever Need coming in second and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life coming in third. Taking out the top spot was Stephanie Milton’s Minecraft Annual.

Australian author Andy Griffiths best-selling series The 91-storey treehouse and The 104-storey treehouse topped the list of most borrowed fiction among young adults and children. Other notable Australians include Matt Cosgrove’s Alpacas with Maracas and Andy Lee’s series Do Not Open This Book. 

ABOUT THE CIVICA LIBRARIES INDEX

The Civica Libraries Index is compiled in partnership with participating libraries using the market-leading Civica Spydus integrated library management system. Loan data is collected, compiled and analysed for the calendar year for a range of audiences and categories. Civica reviewed more than 30 million library book loans across Australia to help determine the country’s most popular books. Data was gathered over a 12-month period from between 01 Apr 2019 and 31 Mar 2020. All information on borrowing behaviours is collected anonymously. Civica is Australia’s leading provider of library information, collection, and management solutions. 

CIVICA 2020 Libraries Index 

Top 20

1 Nine perfect strangers (2018) Moriarty, Liane
2 Becoming (2018) Obama, Michelle
3 Past Tense (2018) Child, Lee
4 The Lost Man (2018) Harper, Jane
5 The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need (2017) Pape, Scott
6 Any Ordinary Day (2018) Sales, Leigh
7 Killer Instinct (2019) Patterson, James
8 Boy Swallows Universe (2018) Dalton, Trent
9 Bridge of Clay (2018) Zusak, Markus
10 The Barefoot Investor for Families: The Only Kids' Money Guide You'll Ever Need (2018) Pape, Scott
11 The Other Wife (2018) Robotham, Michael
12 The Fast 800: How to Combine Rapid Weight Loss and Intermittent Fasting for Long-Term Health (2019) Mosley, Dr Michael
13 Educated (2018) Westover, Tara
14 The 91-storey Treehouse (2017) Griffiths, Andy
15 The Midnight Line (2017) Child, Lee
16 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2017) Manson, Mark
17 No Friend but The Mountains: Writing from Manus prison (2018) Boochani, Behrouz
18 Good Girl Bad Girl (2019) Robotham, Michael
19 The 104-storey Treehouse (2018) Griffiths, Andy
20 Force of Nature (2017) Harper, Jane

 

Fiction

1 Nine Perfect Strangers (2018)  Moriarty, Liane
2 Past Tense (2018) Child, Lee
3 The Lost Man (2018) Harper, Jane
4 Killer Instinct (2019) Patterson, James
5 Boy Swallows Universe (2018) Dalton, Trent
6 The Midnight Line (2017) Child, Lee
7 Long Road to Mercy (2018) Baldacci, David
8 Bridge of Clay (2018) Zusak, Markus
9 Redemption (2019) Baldacci, David
10 Normal People (2018) Rooney, Sally


Non-fiction

1 Becoming (2018)  Obama, Michelle
2 The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need (2017) Pape, Scott
3 Any Ordinary Day (2018) Sales, Leigh
4 The Barefoot Investor for Families: The Only Kids' Money Guide You'll Ever Need (2018) Pape, Scott
5 The Fast 800: How to Combine Rapid Weight Loss and Intermittent Fasting for Long-Term Health (2019) Mosley, Dr Michael
6 Educated (2018) Westover, Tara
7 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2017) Manson, Mark
8 Every thing is F*cked: A Book About Hope (2019) Manson, Mark
9 No Friend but The Mountains: Writing from Manus prison (2018) Boochani, Behrouz
10 The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire (2018)  Hooper, Chloe

 

Australian

1 Nine Perfect Strangers (2018) Moriarty, Liane
2 The Lost Man (2018) Harper, Jane
3 Boy Swallows Universe (2018) Dalton, Trent
4 Bridge of Clay (2018) Zusak, Markus
5 The Other Wife (2018) Robotham, Michael
6 Good Girl Bad Girl (2019) Robotham, Michael
7 Force Of Nature (2017) Harper, Jane
8 The 104-storey Treehouse (2018) Griffiths, Andy, 1961-
9 Arcadia (2018) Morrissey, Di
10 Truly Madly Guilty (2016) Moriarty, Liane

 

Biography

1 Becoming (2018) Obama, Michelle
2 Any Ordinary Day (2018) Sales, Leigh
3 Educated (2018) Westover, Tara
4 No Friend But The Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (2018) Boochani, Behrouz
5 The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster (2017) Krasnostein, Sara
6 The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a Lost Australia (2018) Glover, Richard
7 The Erratics (2019) Laveau-Harvie, Vicki
8 Three Women (2019) Taddeo, Lisa
9 Eggshell Skull: A Memoir About Standing Up, Speaking Out and Fighting Back (2018) Lee, Bri
10 The Happiest Refugee: The Extraordinary True Story of a Boy's Journey from Starvation at Sea to Becoming One of Australia's Best-loved Comedians (2010) Do, Anh

 

Picture Books

1 Alpacas with Maracas (2018) Cosgrove, Matt
2 Pig the Star (2017) Blabey, Aaron
3 The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1970) Carle, Eric
4 Pig the Grub (2018) Blabey, Aaron
5 Scarface Claw, hold tight! (2017) Dodd, Lynley
6 A Stack of Alpacas (2019) Cosgrove, Matt
7 Do Not Open This Book Again (2017) Lee, Andy
8 Pig the Pug (2014) Blabey, Aaron
9 Where is the Green Sheep? (2004) Fox, Mem
10 Do Not Open This ook (2016) Lee, Andy

 

 Non-fiction - children

1 The Barefoot Investor for Families: The Only Kids' Money Guide You'll Ever Need (2018) Pape, Scott
2 Minecraft: Redstone Handbook (2013) Farwell, Nick
3 Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls. 2 (2017) Cavallo, Francesca
4 Guinness World Records 2019 (2018) Guinness World Records Limited
5 Minecraft: Beginner's Handbook (2013) Milton, Stephanie
6 Guinness World Records. 2019, Gamer's edition (2018) Guinness World Records Limited
7 Minecraft: Construction Handbook (2014) Needler, Matthew
8 Guinness World Records 2018 (2017) Guinness World Records Limited
9 Minecraft. Combat Handbook (2014) Milton, Stephanie
10 Minecraft Guide To Enchantments & Potions (2018) Milton, Stephanie

 

Non-fiction - young adults

1 Minecraft Annual 2018 (2017) Milton, Stephanie
2 The Barefoot Investor for Families: The Only Kids' Money Guide You'll Ever Need (2018) Pape, Scott
3 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2017) Manson, Mark
4 Guinness World Records. 2019, Gamer's Edition (2018) Guinness World Records Limited
5 Ripley's Believe it or not! 2019: A Whirlwind of Weird! (2018) Tibballs, Geoff
6 Guinness World Records 2019 (2018) Guinness World Records Limited
7 Becoming (2018) Obama, Michelle
8 Girl Stuff for Girls aged 8-12: Your Real Guide To The Pre-Teen Years (2016) Cooke, Kaz
9 Minecraft: Guide to: PVP Minigames (2018) Milton, Stephanie
10 Guinness World Records 2020 (2019) Guinness World Records Limited

 

Fiction - children

1 The 104-storey Treehouse (2018) Griffiths, Andy
2 The 91-storey Treehouse (2017) Griffiths, Andy
3 Hopping Weird! (2019) Do, Anh
4 The Getaway (2017) Kinney, Jeff
5 The 117-storey Treehouse (2019) Griffiths, Andy
6 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown (2018) Kinney, Jeff
7 Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal (2019) Kinney, Jeff
8 The Meltdown (2018) Kinney, Jeff
9 The 52-storey Treehouse (2014) Griffiths, Andy
10 Splashy Weird! (2018) Do, Anh

 

Fiction - young adults

1 The 91-storey Treehouse (2017) Griffiths, Andy
2 The Meltdown (2018) Kinney, Jeff
3 Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal (2019) Kinney, Jeff
4 Hopping Weird! (2019) Do, Anh
5 Really Weird! (2017) Do, Anh
6 The 117-storey Treehouse (2019) Griffiths, Andy
7 The Hunger Games (2009) Collins, Suzanne
8 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown (2018) Kinney, Jeff
9 The Getaway (2017) Kinney, Jeff
10 The Long Haul (2016) Kinney, Jeff

 

Audiobooks

1 Becoming (2018) Obama, Michelle
2 The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need (2017) Pape, Scott
3 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2017) Manson, Mark
4 Nine Perfect Strangers (2018)  Moriarty, Liane
5 The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018) Morris, Heather
6 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2014) Rowling, J.K.
7 Persuader (2011) Child, Lee
8 Boy Swallows Universe (2018) Dalton, Trent
9 The Weekend (2019) Wood, Charlotte
10 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2018) Harari, Yuval N.

 

eBooks

1 The Lost Man (2018) Harper, Jane
2 Becoming (2018) Obama, Michelle
3 Nine Perfect Strangers (2018) Moriarty, Liane
4 Boy Swallows Universe (2018) Dalton, Trent
5 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (2018) Honeyman, Gail
6 The Mother-in-Law (2019) Hepworth, Sally
7 The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need (2017) Pape, Scott
8 The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018) Morris, Heather
9 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2017) Manson, Mark
10 The Rosie Result Simsion, Graeme C.