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Text beats type when it comes to our favourite holiday reads

05 September, 2013


Despite booming eBook sales, we prefer printed editions when travelling on holiday

    • 71% of travellers choose books over eReaders when travelling on holiday
    • Two thirds (67%) prefer the feel of a real book in their hand
    • Over 1 in 10 (12%) want to leave technology behind altogether whilst abroad
    • Nearly one quarter (23%) now read foreign fiction whilst on holiday

Sales of eBooks may have overtaken those of printed editions in 2012, but new research from Heathrow examining the nation’s holiday reading habits shows that passengers travelling on holiday can’t bring themselves to part with a good old fashioned hard back.

As the summer holidays come to an end, research has shown that 71% of travellers would rather pack their suitcases full of books than opt for a lightweight eReader. Books fare far better around sunscreen, swimming pools and sand, but our love of a good paperback goes deeper – 67% said they prefer to stick with print because they enjoy the feel of a real book in their hands.

And it seems it’s not just eReaders that get dropped – over 1 in 10 (12%) want to leave technology behind altogether whilst on vacation, as smartphones, tablets and laptops are swapped for Salinger, Tolkien and Lewis.

Digital doesn’t fare well when it comes to suggestions of what books to bring either.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 67% said they turn to friends and family for their reading recommendations, closely followed by librarians and book-sellers (22%). Auto-generated online suggestions were found to be least helpful – 33% felt that the recommendations were too stereotyped, and 15% argued that they were just plain dull.

Whether on a business trip to Brussels or a romantic getaway in Rome, we’re also getting more experimental with the types of fiction that we choose to read. No longer the preserve of the cultural elite, foreign fiction is becoming a veritable favourite of British holidaymakers. Nearly one quarter (23%) of those surveyed said they regularly choose to read classics written by nationals of the country they are visiting.

With an on-going programme of book signings, in store events, pop-ups and special promotions, Heathrow is constantly looking for new ways to celebrate one of the nation’s best loved holiday pastimes. Retail Director Muriel Zingraff-Shariff said: “There’s no doubt that the popularity of eBooks has boomed in recent years, but when it comes to relaxing on holiday it seems you just can’t beat a good book. People want a break from technology whilst they’re abroad, so it’s understandable that people would rather swap their Blackberry for Malorie Blackman.”

Simon Smith, Managing Director at WH Smith Travel said: “Books remain a valuable part of people’s holiday experience. Our stores at Heathrow are always popular with customers and we’re delighted to continue to offer a great range of bestselling titles, airport exclusives and fantastic promotions to the 70 million passengers who fly through the airport each year.”

Notes to editors

Key figures and book signings:

  • Previous author signings: Simon Kernick, Lisa Jewel and Leanda De Lisle
  • Upcoming author signings: Lee Child, Robert Harris and Andy McNab

Contact information

Heathrow Airport media centre
Heathrow Airport media centre
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Heathrow Airport
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