The results of my book buying survey (shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) are in, and:
…people don’t buy poetry.
Of the 104 people who have participated in the survey so far (primarily my Facebook friends and friends of friends), 82% said they would buy a work of fiction because they knew and liked the previous work of the author. Seventy-six percent said they would buy a nonfiction book that a friend recommended, and 39% said they would never buy a book of poetry.
I can’t say I’m surprised by these results — as my husband said when I showed him, “you’ve never heard of a rich poet.” But it’s somewhat comforting to know how many people might give a book of poetry a shot if a friend recommended it.
I think this survey also would’ve turned out differently if I had asked on the basis of what a person might read instead of what they might buy — I’ve gotten the impression in my adult life that people would rather read something for free than pay for it (and I get that). The results might also be different if I had been able to cast a wider net in gathering data (even though I made the survey public, my network only reaches so far; if you would like to take the survey, click here).
One reason I created this survey was that the data I wanted didn’t seem to be readily available, but there are some other interesting factoids out there. According to Pew Research Center, 74% of U.S. adults surveyed in 2018 (2,002) said they read a book in the last year, and 24% said they did not read or listen to a single book in that same time frame. I’m not sure if this should be upsetting or not, but it’s curious to me that eBooks and audio books are maybe not the motivator for non-readers that one might expect; so why aren’t people reading? And how many of those people who do read actually buy the book(s)?
It’s also worth noting that, according to an article posted by Publisher’s Weekly in 2014, 65% of all online new-book sales — print and digital — came from Amazon. That seems like a pretty big deal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that number has increased in the last five years.
That said, the American Booksellers Association also found that retail sales at U.S. bookstores were up in 2018.
So what does this mean for readers, writers, publishers and bookstore owners?
Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below 🙂