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Doug_Pardee
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Book-buying: a minority activity

[ Edited ]

Bowker has released its annual report on book buying in the US in 2009. It'll cost you a grand to read the whole report(!), but they do have some teasers in their press release.

 

They didn't put it this way, but:

 

  • Almost 60% of Americans over 13 didn't buy a single book all year. (!!!)
  • Women buy almost twice as many books as men.

You can't tell for sure just from those numbers, but it seems likely that a big percentage of the folks who didn't buy any books at all were men.

 

'T'wasn't me. In 2009, I bought at least 16 books online, and at least one from a bookstore. Most of them were non-fiction: 10 on topics associated with fiction-writing, and 2 on work-related topics. I bought one anthology of short stories and 4 novels—one of which remains unread because I can't seem to jam it into the microUSB port on my NOOK. And probably more that I don't remember; there were likely a dozen or so from the used-book store, but Bowker isn't tracking those anyway.

 

This year, so far, I've bought 7 e-books. But with the availability of so many free e-books, I've read a lot more than that.

 

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EmrysIN
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

My only caution with that report is the wording. Just like any statistic, they will word things to make it sound worse than it really is. For example, 60% of people not buying a book is likely due to the ecconomy and could indicate an increase in library rentals and trading books with friends. Garage sales are another great place to get books.

 

As far as the statement that women buy twice as many books as men, you could switch the word "books" with any other object and it would still be correct.

~Women buy almost twice as many clothes as men.

~Women buy almost twice as much chocolate as men.

~Women buy almost twice as many shoes as men.

:smileyvery-happy:  I'm a girl myself so don't hate me for a bit of sexism. :smileytongue:

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xamier
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

I read somewhere, a long time ago and it may or may not be true, that 80% of books are read by 20% of the people.

 

I wonder if it came out of your report once upon a time?

Xamier
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gqb
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gqb
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

Hmmm, $1000 to read the report would be the equivalent of 100 e-books (not including tax) at $9.99 each. 

 

 

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ABthree
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

 


gqb wrote:

Hmmm, $1000 to read the report would be the equivalent of 100 e-books (not including tax) at $9.99 each. 

 

 


 

 

Let's wait for the eBook version:  if the Agency Five handle it, it'll only cost $500. 

 

Unless they price it at $1500 to goose hardcover sales.  :smileywink:

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+in your kindness, make the wicked become good.+
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Lynns_Nook
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

 


EmrysIN wrote:

 

As far as the statement that women buy twice as many books as men, you could switch the word "books" with any other object and it would still be correct.

~Women buy almost twice as many clothes as men.

~Women buy almost twice as much chocolate as men.

~Women buy almost twice as many shoes as men.

:smileyvery-happy:  I'm a girl myself so don't hate me for a bit of sexism. :smileytongue:


 

 

Hmmm...not sure I agree with that.

 

Women don't buy twice as much beer as men. :smileyvery-happy:

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ABthree
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

 


Lynns_Nook wrote:

 


EmrysIN wrote:

 

As far as the statement that women buy twice as many books as men, you could switch the word "books" with any other object and it would still be correct.

~Women buy almost twice as many clothes as men.

~Women buy almost twice as much chocolate as men.

~Women buy almost twice as many shoes as men.

:smileyvery-happy:  I'm a girl myself so don't hate me for a bit of sexism. :smileytongue:


 

 

Hmmm...not sure I agree with that.

 

Women don't buy twice as much beer as men. :smileyvery-happy:


 

And for some reason, they seem to resist buying it FOR us, too.  Go figure!  :smileysurprised:

 

+LORD, preserve the good in their goodness, and+
+in your kindness, make the wicked become good.+
-- St. Basil the Great+
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_deb_
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

On the whole "women buy twice as many books as men" thing....I'm a little curious as to....

 

1....how many of those books were purchased by a woman FOR a man or child?  I know that I do 99% of the shopping for my household and yet purchase very little for myself :smileyhappy:

 

2....how many of those books were romance novels?  Is there really a male equivalent to the cheap romance novel?  They cover every range of content from "nadda til marriage" to literotica making they marketable to a HUGE group.  They definitely sway the numbers towards the women.  As a woman who periodically enjoys a bit of a romantic read (where it falls in the range above will remain confidential : ) I will be the first to say that many of them shouldn't count as a whole book purchase, but instead maybe a half of one :smileyhappy:

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Doug_Pardee
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Gender effects in the (American) book world

Statistics are fun to push around, especially ones from polling. In 2007, a survey on Americans reading rather than buying, done by the Associated Press and the Ipsos polling folks, found that over 1/4 of Americans (and about 1/3 of American men) said they hadn't read any books "in the past year", which I guess was 2006 or maybe they left the interpretation open.

 

Of the people who had read at least one book, the average woman read 9 books while the average man read 5 (average=median here).

 

As to the types of books, The Washington Post reported it as: "The Bible and religious works were read by two-thirds in the survey, more than all other categories. Popular fiction, histories, biographies and mysteries were all cited by about half, while one in five read romance novels. Every other genre — including politics, poetry and classical literature — were named by fewer than five percent of readers."

 

One has to wonder how many respondents had read exactly one book: The Bible. Or the relevant scripture for their particular faith.

 

Shortly after that (in 2007), NPR reported that in the case of fiction, "according to surveys conducted in the U.S., Canada and Britain", women read four times as much as men did.

 

A few months ago, author, literary agent, and former editor Jason Pinter wrote an article for The Huffington Post in which he charges the publishing industry of abetting "a vicious cycle" in which the publishers don't produce material for men and then notice that men aren't buying what they publish. And that over time, this has introduced another bias in the publishing industry: "most editorial meetings tend to be dominated by women. Saying the ratio is 75/25 is not overstating things. So needless to say when a male editor pitches a book aimed at men, there are perilously few men to read it and give their opinions."

 

Pinter also mentions the Kindle and NOOK commercials: "Why would men buy an e-reader, considering the takeaway from these ads is you can a) learn about your pregnancy after falling for Mr. Darcy, or b) become Amelia Earhart or Holly Golightly?" In contrast, he feels that the iPad commercials "catch your attention without alienating half the consumer population."

 

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aditya
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Re: Gender effects in the (American) book world

[ Edited ]

Is there really a male equivalent to the cheap romance novel?

@deb

Yes, it's called "conspiracy lit" :smileyvery-happy:


Doug_Pardee wrote:

A few months ago, author, literary agent, and former editor Jason Pinter wrote an article for The Huffington Post in which he charges the publishing industry of abetting "a vicious cycle" in which the publishers don't produce material for men and then notice that men aren't buying what they publish. And that over time, this has introduced another bias in the publishing industry: "most editorial meetings tend to be dominated by women. Saying the ratio is 75/25 is not overstating things. So needless to say when a male editor pitches a book aimed at men, there are perilously few men to read it and give their opinions."

 


 

@Doug

I remember reading this article. In fact, I recall a thread where it came up (started to solicit book suggestions for men :smileyhappy: - some interesting suggestions in there, but I digress). As a counterpoint to the Pinter article, here's one by Stephen King that argues otherwise (posted by one of the contributors to that thread). Interesting read. The idea is that where women have "chick lit", we men (:smileytongue: *groan*) have "manfiction" [his words, not mine :smileyvery-happy:].

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Lesara
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Re: Gender effects in the (American) book world

I am one of the few people in my high-school who avidly reads, so much so that I got the Nook. People think I'm weird, as if doing a time old act of reading somehow alienates me from everyone and marking me as a "weirdo". 

 

The article was interesting and I can kind of believe it, but polling is very inaccurate, you could end up with 500 people who don't like to read while missing the other 1000 who like to read but you don't bother to call them.

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Lugaid_Llyr
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

I don't know, I suspect the far more women buy beer than you expect. The catch is it is usually purchased for and  drunk by a man.

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NJMetal
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

[ Edited ]

xamier wrote:

I read somewhere, a long time ago and it may or may not be true, that 80% of books are read by 20% of the people.

 

I wonder if it came out of your report once upon a time?


 

Why are 'they' discounting the other 20% of the books and can we infer that the other 80% of the people are reading that small minority of books that are left over?

"We always condemn most in others, that which we fear most in ourselves." -Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
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pixargirl
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

Judging by what I observe on the NYC subway every morning and evening - I see at least twice as many women reading versus men.  And most of the men who do read are reading newspapers or magazines - not books.  It's to the point where if I see a man reading an actual book, I automatically find it kind of attractive just because it's so unusual. 

 

Having said that - out of a full subway car only about 20% of the people are usually reading.  The rest are just staring into space or falling asleep on the person sitting next to them.  Or talking on their cell phones at an unnecessarily high volume...

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xamier
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

http://www.humorwriters.org/startlingstats.html Okay, I found this bunch of statistics. I would infer that the other 80% of the population reads the other 20% of the books in my 1st post, but from the new statistics I found last year 80% of the people in the united states didn't read a book so who knows. I guess 20% of the us population is still a profitable market.

Xamier
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Ryan_L
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

I definitely agree with your last statement, my actual book purchases have gone down compared to my pre-nook days, but I definitely am still devouring a few books a month.

 

At the very least the e-reader wars and ipad have hopefully helped to ignite more people in America to start reading again.

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ellsbells930
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

I found the Stephen King article kind of funny.  As a woman, I'd rather read "manfiction" over Nora Roberts & Jodi Piccoult any day.

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Coanda-1910
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

20% of the US: 60 million people. Definitely a niche market, but I imagine a few people could scrape out a living off that customer base.

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Htom_Serveaux
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

I'll try to keep this succinct, but I have a tendency to pontificate.

 

First, polls or any other studies that attempt to tell us that x% of people do anything should be dismissed almost out of hand.  People aren't widgets, and surveys simply cannot tell us what people do or what they think.  Any reasonable sample size will be just too small compared to the total population to be statistically significant, and people aren't widgets.  You can't measure x number of them and extrapolate that to the general population (as you might with a random sampling of toasters from an assembly line to see how many on average are defective).

 

A survey or poll will only tell you what the specific people surveyed told you.  People in surveys or polls can and will give answers that are not true, for any number of reasons ranging from embarassment, trying to please the pollsters, responding as they think they should, or based on their current mood.  The pollsters can't read minds.  Also, the responses you have are limited to the people contacted who are willing to respond.  What if 90% of all readers are disinclined to answer polls about reading?

 

As an older person (and that pains me to write that, but I *am* 55) I'm always struck by stories or books outlining the intellectual and cultural decline of America.  The majority of people have always been non-readers, and always will be.

 

If you go way back, the great masses of humanity were too busy doing things like getting enough to eat and keeping the elements from killing them for a lot of reading.  In more recent times, folks still didn't sit around reading and engaging in intellectual discourse over what they read.  As one quick example, the last book I read about how America is on the brink because kids are walking around with iPods stuck in their ears instead of reading used as evidence the old "Book of the Month" club, and the number of people who subscribed to it in the good old days.

 

My parents were some of those people (in the '60s and '70s when I was a kid) but I have a bulletin for you.  They (and other adults I was aware of in the family) belonged because they thought they should and the books looked good in the house.  Those books went in a bookcase over the aquarium, and there they sat.  In our household of six, nobody read those books but me.

 

In Junior High and High school my reading marked me as an oddball.  Even one of the English teachers derided me for spending all of my cash birthday gifts (a total of 100 1970's dollars) on books, telling me anyone who spent $100 on books was "a weirdo".

 

Just as there never was a moral paradise ala "Ozzy and Harriet" and "Leave it to Beaver" (although that Paradise sounds a lot like Hell to me) in the '50s, the general American public has never been a culture of literature.  We've always been a minority, and always will be.

 

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aditya
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Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

[ Edited ]

Bravo! Excellent post and I fully agree. The other thing that always amazes me is that reading a book is automatically considered "good for you". Mind-boggling considering the (steadily rising) amount of sheer rubbish in the literary world. With the bar for publication falling arbitrarily low (thanks to cheaper means of production and ebooks of course), selectivity is going down. This means that otherwise overlooked talent can come to the fore, but the flip side is that that talent is also more likely to be eclipsed by the garbage that rises with it.

 

By rubbish, I don't necessarily refer to any one genre (though there are some that are particularly egregious in this regard - but bringing those up would only be a distraction). By rubbish, I mean simply that reading it does not in the slightest increase your vocabulary or broaden your worldview or leave you any wiser or better off than before you read it. In fact, there are entire genres written specifically to keep people's minds within a well-defined and shallow wading pool, as if they were little children all their lives.

 

At any rate, I just wanted to point that out. Sometimes, not reading a book can actually be better for you than reading trash. Of course, reading a good book is infinitely better than either of those two options :smileyhappy:.

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