Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Survey Says II!

By Joe Moore

Last time around I wrote about a writer’s survey taking by Novelist, Inc. asking 100 bestselling members to comment on whether they could actually make a living as a writer. The results were:

Yes 22%

Probably yes 9%

Probably no 17%

No 52%

Not the most encouraging news, but a fact just the same.

bookstore1 Today I want to bring you some interesting data resulting from a Zogby International/Random House survey covering how and where readers shop, what makes them buy, and their reading and book-buying habits.

The first item I found interesting (and reassuring) was that despite the increasing availability of innovative e-book devices and online accessibility to books, 82% of the respondents said they still prefer to read printed books over new technology. Even though printed books have the greatest appeal among older respondents, it was the overwhelming choice among all age groups. Only 11% said they were comfortable reading books in other formats besides traditional print.

Another interesting stat was that close to half of the people taking the survey go to bookstores knowing pretty much what they’re looking for while almost as many have a specific title in mind. Many said they are always tempted by other books while they’re there.

So what attracts readers? The results said:

48% subject

24% author

11% title

Now here are the points I found most interesting. When questioned about what influences their purchasing choices, 60% said suggestions from friends and family, and nearly half said they were influenced by book reviews. More than half (52%) said they judge a book by its cover and a third said they have purchased a book based on a cover blurb by another author.

The survey contains much more great info but here’s what I got get out of it:

Printed books are going to be with us for a long time.

Word-of-mouth sells books (not advertising).

Book reviews carry a lot of weight.

You better have a great cover.

You better get some great blurbs.

Read the whole survey results article at the Zogby site.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Interesting post, Joe. No matter what promotional tools we use, the best way is still word of mouth. Write a good book. Make sure it gets into the hands of lots of folks. Then hope those folks will talk about it ... A LOT! Book sales may be reported in the thousands, but books are still sold one at a time.

Mark Combes said...

These results are shifting ever so slightly from year to year - with reviews being more important now than they have in the past. I suspect it's because we are all busier and work more independently thus need a little help in suggesting reading choices. But as Sue Ann says, word of mouth is still king.

Jess Lourey said...

That is really interesting info, Joe. I suppose that's how I pick books, too--word of mouth, covers, author, and genre more than topic. But I always thought that reviews and blurbs didn't do much. Guess I was wrong.

G.M. Malliet said...

I can be turned OFF by a cover but I'd try to look past that to the blurbs and reviews.

I don't think I've bought too many books just because I liked the cover.

Joe Moore said...

Even after all the surveys in the world are taken, it still boils down to writing the best book we can. And the best advertising is always one person's recommendation to another. Thanks for the comments.

paul lamb said...

Word of mouth certainly got Harry Potter started as well as the daVinci Code.

I've nearly always found that I've hated books I read based on a review (oddly, most of those were NYTimes reviews too).

I buy most of my books online through ABE Books. That's used books, of course. I sometimes buy a new hardcover, but it's rarely to keep. I donate them to the small town library I support. I tend to rely on library books for new reads, though I will occasionally buy a new paperback when I know I won't have the chance to read it before my borrowing privileges would be permanently revoked at the library.

I suspect, however, that electronic books are going to take off much faster than anyone predicts in a couple of years. Look at the iPod (and the quality of the music on those things isn't even very good).

Felicia Donovan said...

Interesting indeed, Joe. The more I ask people what influences them to buy a book, the more it seems it's such an individual choice...except for when Oprah makes the recommendation.

May we all land on Oprah's list someday...