Who’s reading what? For some insight into the buying habits, of readers, the best source around is probably Bowker Market Research’s consumer panel of almost 70,000 Americans who bought books in 2012. Bowker recently released its 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review. The 2013 Review is available by visiting http://www.bookconsumer.com. While it has a hefty price tag, Bowker offers a free preview online, which provides some intriguing facts and figures:
By the close of 2012, 53 percent of consumers said the economy was having no effect on their book buying habits, up from 51 percent at the end of 2011.
While ebooks continue to surge, traditional print book output actually grew three percent in 2012, from 292,037 titles in 2011 to 301,642 in 2012.
Women in the 30-to-44 age bracket emerged in the survey as the primary book buyers and outspent men in every age category. In all, 71% of self-published books sold in 2012 were purchased by women.
Self-published authors accounted for 3% books purchased across the United States —
and 1% of dollars spent.
Self-published books accounted for 8% of ebook purchases in 2012, and 10% of adult fiction ebooks.
Ebook growth varies widely among publishing categories. To date, the deepest penetration is in fiction, particularly in the mystery/detective, romance, and science fiction categories, where ebooks accounted for more than 20 percent of 2012 spending.
Genre growth: There were small share gains for books in the adult-fiction category (given a major boost by the Fifty Shades trilogy). Juvenile genres — especially the young-adult category — also showed healthy gains.
Online booksellers accounted for 44 percent of American book sales in 2012.
To me, one of the most fascinating statistics here is even as ebooks continue to make their mark, traditional print books actually rose in 2012 to almost 302,000. The uptick is heartening, but what’s even more amazing to me is the sheer number of titles pouring off the presses in a year — more than 300,000. What a staggering number! When you consider the number of books reviewed each week in say, the New York Times Sunday Book Review, compared to the total volume of new releases, it makes you realize just how challenging it is to get noticed. Which makes the word-of-mouth power of indie booksellers all the more important and impressive. So let’s support our local bookstores so they can support us — and write on.