THRILLERS, escapism and Harry Potter are the stories locked-down adults and children alike have been turning to over the last few months in greater numbers than ever.
Library users in Swansea have been turning to e-Books and e-Audiobooks in greater numbers than ever during the pandemic.
And it’s stories transporting them from their living rooms to other worlds that have proved the most popular.
Up until the recent launch of the council’s popular phone and collect book service, the only way to get the latest library reads has been online.
Online services have seen a surge in popularity with authors like David Baldacci, C. J. Carver J K Rowling and Philip Pullman all doing well.
Demand among adults for audiobooks has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic, while youngsters are digging in to electronic versions of the Harry Potter stories in significantly greater numbers than a year ago.
Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said the rise in downloads of electronic books suggested that, despite having to close libraries to protect residents and staff from Coronavirus, there is still a thirst for reading.
He said: “While people have been stuck in lockdown there’s clearly been a sharp rise in the demand for movies and drama on TV and that seems also to be the case for books as well. People seem to have wanted to get away from it all and immerse themselves in a decent read.
“This time last year, for example, Jack Reacher stories took the top five spots in e-Books among adults. But between April and June this year we saw the number of downloads increase four-fold with a much wider range of authors getting in on the act with names like Patricia MacDonald and Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen getting in among the top spots.
“Despite lockdown we’ve also been keeping in touch with book lovers with our Swansea Libraries Reading Group on Facebook which featured Christy Lefteri’s The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the story of one refugee family’s escape from war-torn Syria.
“The success of the book with the group saw it get into the top five chart for both audio and e-Books.”
Among children Harry Potter’s adventures maintained their grip on imaginations last year as well as this year with the first book of the series – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – securing top spot.
Cllr Francis-Davies said: “E-Books and audio books have tended not to be as popular among children as adults. But this year it seems that despite not being able to visit the library youngsters have still wanted to something to read during lockdown and have really got into the downloadable alternatives.”
Libraries across Swansea and Wales remain closed for the time being, but residents can now order printed versions of their favourite stories online and go to the library to collect them with the new phone and pick-up service.
To find out more about all our library services during lockdown go to the library pages at www.swansea.gov.uk/libraries