Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interesting Survey on Book Buying

This is a very interesting survey on book buying trends and I recommend spending some time looking at the questions and responses (via this discussion at Westeros). The stat below seems to sum up things pretty well, but there is much more interesting stuff at the link.

Inspiration for book purchasing

In store displays - 26%
Newspaper and magazine reviews - 14%
Mentions on television or radio - 13%
Recommended by family/friends - 12%
Internet recommendations - 9%
Advice of shop staff/librarian - 2%
Source: Reading the Future Survey: The Bookseller (May 2008)

My reaction/comments:

  • I wonder what the definition of a friend is. If someone buys a book based on a forum or blog from someone they consider themselves friendly with is it an internet recommendation or a one from a friend. If two friends who live on the other side of the state/country/world and are on Facebook (or any other social network) and one mentions a book, is that an internet or friend recommendation?

  • As the above comment indicates, I'm skeptical about how one separates out the internet in a time when it's increasing a part of more and more aspects of our lives.

  • Survey methodology - how was the survey conducted? Was it given in bookshops, on-line, through mailers? What was the age range of these people? Other demographics? I would love to know what the inherent bias is - I suspect that since it says it's a Bookseller Association survey that it was done mostly in actual bookstores which significantly skews the results toward bookstores.

  • I see no mention of cover art which is often said to have a huge influence on at least initially picking up books. It seems lost in store displays (which also seems to indicate a Bookseller-bias in the survey). What about title - I would love to see a rigorous study on cover art vs. titles, especially considering the internet world where a buyer may not even see the cover art until after purchase - it may just be title and blurb.

Also of note - this article in the Guardian about blurbs, which I found much less interesting.


Cheryl said...

I share your suspicions. I suspect that people will class a review on Strange Horizons or SF Site as an Internet recommendation, but a plug on a personal blog, even if it is from a high profile blogger such as John Scalzi or Neil Gaiman, as a recommendation from a "friend". The fact that LiveJournal and the like use the word "friend" when they often mean "reader of" tends to encourage this.

Carl V. said...

I'm certainly skeptical looking at the numbers. I cannot believe that the newspaper and magazines rate higher than the internet. I just don't buy it.

And I agree that book covers should have its own category as well.


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