Non-Fiction Reading Trends in 2023

It is nearly the end of another year! A time to reflect on the news and events that have shaped our reading trends over the past 12 months.

So, what have library communities worldwide been reading in 2023 besides the obvious bestsellers?

We have used library circulation data from collectionHQ to examine Non-Fiction subjects (by BISAC group) that have grown in interest in 2023. Conversely, we have also identified subjects that have declined in readership. In this article, we will look at Non-Fiction reading trends from North America, the UK, Ireland, and Australasia, then delve more deeply into shifts by each country.

What trends are we seeing worldwide?

Across North America, the UK, Ireland, and Australasia, we have discovered similar trends in the following areas:

Declining circulation in “Medical / Infectious Diseases”

In the post-pandemic era, we have seen a steady decline in the circulation of material about infectious diseases, infection control, and epidemiology, which has continued into 2023. This is in stark contrast to the trends we reported at the height of the pandemic in 2020 – 2021, where these subjects spiked in interest.

Increased circulation in “Political Science” and “Environmental”

Lately, much attention has been given to the growing interest among young people in politics and environmental activism. This trend is apparent from what is checking out in libraries worldwide, with a steady increase in the BISACs: Political Science / Religion, Politics & State and Science / Chemistry / Environmental.

This attention to current affairs combined with tragic civil unrest in parts of the world has also seen a rise in History books in 2023, particularly those relating to Wars & Conflicts.

Rising circulation in “Family & Relationships”

Books with a BISAC of Family & Relationships / Eldercare and Psychology, Psychopathology, and Memory Disorders have seen a rise in 2023. As our populations age, libraries offer increased services for older adults and support for people and families affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia. For example, in November, the Alabama Public Library service introduced “cognitive care kits” with “puzzles and memory games” to support people with Alzheimer’s.

Specific Trends by Country

United States and Canada – Computers

Computers / Quantum Computing has seen a marked incline in 2023. Also up and relating to this field is Science / Physics. Experts have identified quantum as an “emerging industry” and one which could enhance artificial intelligence. And with AI now touching upon our daily lives (whether it’s the recommendations we receive from Netflix or those spookily accurate adverts we see on Facebook), it is hardly surprising that communities are increasingly interested in the evolution of this technology.

United Kingdom and Ireland – Business and Economics

The UK and Ireland have seen a spike in Business and Economics books, particularly personal finance and budgeting. A report published by Libraries Connected in June 2022 shows that since the start of the cost of living crisis in the UK, many people have turned to their local library as a trusted service to access resources about saving money and how to request financial support. This increased demand for library services, both for advice and as a warm place, reminds us of how important libraries are to our communities.

Australia and New Zealand – Juvenile Non-Fiction

In this market, the data reveals a general rise in Juvenile Non-Fiction usage, a promising trend for libraries. The categories vary from Mathematics to Animals to Sports & Recreation. Many of our library customers have reported more young people using the public library as a place to study. This positive trend may be a lasting effect of the COVID-19 lockdowns, which saw a surge in library loans among young people to support their studies as schools closed.


What trends have you noticed among your library community in 2023? Tweet us your comments @collectionHQ.

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