Booknet Canada: Comics and Graphic Novels Gained Popularity in 2022

In News by Porter Anderson

In English-language Canadian publishing, Booknet reports a major jump of interest expressed by respondents in graphic narratives.

In Vancouver’s Gastown district of souvenir shops and restaurants, on May 28 of the Booknet survey year, 2022. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Wirestock

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Annual ‘Canadian Leisure & Reading Study’
The Canadian market in 2022, according to a 1.290-person study of English-speaking adults, showed new signs of interest in comics and other graphic narrative forms.

BookNet Canada is a standards and research organization for the English-language Canadian market, as well as a provider of supply-chain technology.

Readership of comics and graphics novels, according to the responses of the survey’s sample, “surged,” as Booknet’s staffers describe it, in 2022 as compared with 2021. And this seems to have been true for both fiction and nonfiction books.

Graphic novels and fictional comics, according to the people answering surveyors, saw higher readership in both print, at 15 percent in 2022 vs. 3 percent in 2021, and in ebook formats, at 16 percent in 2022 vs. 2 percent in 2021. Those are surging jumps, indeed.

Nonfiction comics and graphic novels also saw an increase for print (12% in 2022 vs. 7% in 2021) and ebook readership (10% in 2022 vs. 6% in 2021).

In its newly reported survey results, 81 percent of Canadians responding to the survey’s inquiries said they felt they had enough or more than enough free time in 2022. This may, of course, distinguish those Canadians from every other market’s citizens in the world, and perhaps even from the Canadians not taking the survey. But, nevertheless, in this criterion, this sample of the Canadian population appears to have been well satisfied with its available free time.

Publishing Perspectives will be moving its offices to Canada by the time you finish reading this article.

It should be pointed out that this annual survey is called the Canadian Leisure & Reading Study 2022. So it starts with the premise that there is leisure time and is framed by its title as an examination of reading as part of such a commodity.

Those satisfied Canadians reported to survey takers that they spent that enviable free time:

  • Shopping (99 percent)
  • Watching television, videos, or films (97 percent)
  • Cooking (96 percent)
  • Listening to music (96 percent)
  • Spending time with family members (96 percent)

Forty Percent Say They Ready Daily in 2022

Asked if they had read or listened to a book in the past year, “roughly eight in 10” respondents said that they had.

With the assumption that they were talking about reading books:

  • Forty percent said they read daily
  • Twenty-four percent said they read weekly
  • Fifteen percent said they read monthly

Ninety-four percent of the self-described readers told researchers that they had read at least one print book.

Ebook and audiobook reading, according to responses, increased in 2022 over 2021 numbers. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of readers said they had read an ebook in 2022, up from 64 percent in 2021. In 2022, 51 percent of readers said they had listened to an audiobook compared with 45 percent of readers who had done so in 2021.

In media messaging today (May 30), Booknet offers several more highlights:

  • Readers report that they’re increasingly sing smartphones to read ebooks: 23 percent told survey takers that they did this in 2019 and that figure rose to 34 percent in 2022.
  • Across all formats, Canadian readers say they are buying less and borrowing more in 2022 compared with 2020: this trend is most pronounced for print books. In 2022, 52 percent of readers surveyed said they paid for their print books, compared to 61 percent in 2020.
  • Inspired by the popularity of BookTok, the Booknet surveyers asked respondents if they had viewed a book-specific social media post on BookTok, BookTube, Bookstagram, or similar. More readers said that they had seen or searched out this type of content daily in 2022 than said they had visited a book-specific social network such as Shelfari, Goodreads, 49th Shelf, Wattpad, and so on.
  • In going to social media, 12 percent said they were looking to view a book-specific post, while 10 percent said they were there for a book-specific network. In other words, individual posts relative to books were more attractive, per the reports of these respondents, than book-specific sites.

The full study is something you can see at this link, and is free to view in the customary Issuu format. You can also download a PDF or ePub copy of the report t that page.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Canadian book market is here, more on BookNet Canada is here, more on ebooks is here, more on comics and graphic narratives is here, and more on industry statistics is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.