Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Consumer Study Statistics

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Bowker just released its "2009 Book Consumer Annual Review: U.S. Demographics & Buying Behavior" study. Yeah, I know, not the most enticing title! But the report is full of information of use to publishers - and to authors. The full report can be obtained for $999 (in case you were wondering what to get me for my birthday), but Publishers Weekly has an article with the highlights (8/16/10 issue; volume 257, number 32).

Although the report does have statistics on e-books, I'd pretty much discount those now. The digital book world has changed--and grown--dramatically in 2010, data from 2009 just doesn't seem relevant anymore except as an historical comparison.

So here are the highlights:
(Note that "unit sales" mean number of books sold, versus "dollar sales", which is money spent. For example, mass market paperbacks would have a higher unit sales versus lower dollar sales, since individual units are less costly.)

Consumer Demographics
This was the most interesting section for me.

Buyers by Age
16% - age 63+
30% - age to 44 to 62
22% - Gen X
20% - Gen Y
11% - Gen Z

Education is a primary trait of book buyers--81% of books (dollars and units) are purchased by people with at least some college education.

Top Reasons for selecting a book, Nonfiction:

Top Reason for selecting a book, Fiction:

Unit Sales by Channel (vendor type)
27% - bookstore chains
21% - e-tailers (online vendors)
11% - book clubs
8% - mass merchandisers
5% - independent bookstores

Dollar Sales by Channel
37% - bookstore chains
19% - e-tailers

Print title sales, units
15% - Barnes&Noble
13% - Amazon
10% - Borders
6% - Wal-Mart

Unit sales by category
40% - adult fiction
[8% - YA
8% - general fiction
6% - romance
6% - thriller/espionage]

20% - children's
16% - nonfiction
13% - academic/professional
8% - religion
3% - scientific/technical/medical

Dollar sales by category
28% - adult fiction
14% - children's
19% - nonfiction
21% - academic/professional
9% - religion
9% - scientific/technical/medical

(See the difference in unit versus dollars? The various types of nonfiction accounted for 40% of books sold, but earned 58% of the dollars, because they are generally higher priced individual books.)

The study is based on 43,000 online survey responses. That's a big enough segment to give the numbers credibility.

1 comment:

Ann Bruce said...

Yeah, those numbers jive with what I just spent on my texts for my MBA courses. Ten minutes on Amazon and I spent more on four textbooks than I have on the last 50 fiction books.