There has been an increase in book reading in Italy over the past two years, according to market research company Ipsos.

A study looked at how many books had been bought over the last 12 months compared to at the same point in 2003.

Now 45 per cent of Italians read at least one book every 12 months compared with 39 per cent in 2003. The number of people who buy books has also risen; figures for the past 12 months show that 35 per cent of Italians have bought at least one book (excluding those for school and university, and those bought as supplements to newspapers) compared to 27 per cent in 2003.

Also on the up is the number of books sold at newsstands as supplements to newspapers, which has seen a five per cent increase in sales over the last two years.

Some say that this boom in reading is not due to a sudden new passion for reading but the result of a few blockbuster hits such as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The ease of acquiring books at newsstands has also been cited as a contributing factor.