11 Replies Latest reply on Sep 6, 2010 6:17 PM by Htom_Serveaux

    Book-buying: a minority activity

    Doug_Pardee

      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.

       

        • Re: Book-buying: a minority activity
          EmrysIN

          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:

            • 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:

                • Re: Book-buying: a minority activity
                  ABthree

                   


                  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:

                   

                  • Re: Book-buying: a minority activity
                    Lugaid_Llyr

                    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.

                • 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?

                    • 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. 

                       

                       

                      • Re: Book-buying: a minority activity

                        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?

                          • Re: Book-buying: a minority activity
                            pixargirl

                            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...

                            • 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.

                          • 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.

                            • Re: Book-buying: a minority activity
                              Htom_Serveaux

                              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.