June 15, 2007
Who's Buying Books?
According to a new survey conducted by consulting firm Content Connections, book buyers are typically middle-aged career women who are married, make an average of $88,000 a year and have at least a bachelor's degree. Of all nonfiction books sold, 66 percent are purchased by women (though fewer than 15 percent of bestselling authors are female). Last year, the average female book buyer was 45 years old and bought 28 books, spending $280 on nonfiction titles and $147 on fiction titles. This book buyer most likely lives in a large city and buys a third of her books online but prefers to visit the local bookstore where she spends an average of 40 minutes browsing.
Does this fit you, dear reader? Occasionally over the years InterVarsity Press has done studies of our readership, especially of our IVP Book Club members, and we have learned that the "typical" IVP reader tends to be a middle-aged male, often active in some form of ministry or church leadership. Of course, many of our books are geared directly for college students, and thus another segment of our readership is quite distinctly 18-25 of both genders (often more women, as more women are college students than men on campus in general as well as within InterVarsity circles).
I think the above study is interesting not only for the demographic snapshot but also for the buying habit pattern - two-thirds nonfiction, one-third fiction, a third online, two-thirds in physical stores. And 28 books a year is roughly one every two weeks. Of course, how one calculates this is inexact; I start far more books than I finish, since I casually browse and dip into dozens of books at a time, a chapter here, a chapter there. But I generally finish reading one or two books a week. I used to read as many as a hundred and fifty books in a calendar year, but that number has gone drastically down since having kids. (Unless you include kids' books, in which case I now read hundreds more!)
How about you? How many books do you read a year? And do you buy them online, in physical stores or a mix of both? Inquiring minds want to know.