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Do the math

A list of publishing industry statistics. I think this came via Seth Godin, but wherever it came from, it’s terrifying. Whilst, as you’ll notice from the title, it’s an American-slanted set of stats, it’s still no reason to feel in any way encouraged. The question is, how to make books relevant in this kind of landscape?

Covers, Book
Everyone judges a book by its cover.
On the average, a book store browser spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.
Sales Reps show covers or jackets and give a sales pitch that averages 14 seconds.
Also see 116: Book Cover Worksheet.


Writers and Authors
81% of the population feels they have a book inside them.
27% would write fiction.
28% would write on personal development
27% would write history, biography, etc.
20% would do a picture book, cookbook, etc.
6 million have written a manuscript.
6 million manuscripts are making the rounds.
Out of every 10,000 children’s books, 3 get published.

Who is Reading Books (and who is not)
One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.
58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
42% of college graduates never read another book.
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57% of new books are not read to completion.
–Jerrold Jenkins.
Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
63% of adults report purchasing at least one book during the previous three-month period. (Most were probably exaggerating).
–Bookselling This Week, November 10, 1997.
53% read fiction, 43% nonfiction. The favorite fiction category is mystery & Suspense, 19%.
–Publishers Weekly, May 12, 1997, page 13.
Of the top fifty books, fiction outsells nonfiction about 60% to 40%. Fiction peaks in July at 70% but nonfiction reaches almost 50% in December.
–USA Today, April 30, 1999.
55% of fiction is bought by women; 45% by men.
–Publishers Weekly, May 12, 1997, page 13.
Thirty percent of Americans surveyed by the Harris Poll say they would rather read a book than do anything else; twenty-one percent said watching TV is their favorite activity. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only 13 percent selected “spending time with family.
–Publishers Weekly email Daily, July 9, 1998.
Each day, people in the US spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
–Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment bankers
70% of Americans haven’t visited a bookstore in five (5) years.
–Michael Levine, June 2002
Customers 55 and older account for more than one-third of all books bought.
–2001 Consumer Research Study on Book Purchasing by the Book Industry Study Group,
People reduced their time reading between 1996 and 2001 to 2.1 hours/month.
2001: per capita spending on books per month was $7.18.
–Publishers Weekly, May 26, 2003
Only 32% of the U.S. population has ever been in a bookstore.
–David Godine, Publisher.
The time Americans spend reading books.
1996: 123 hours
2001: 109 hours
–Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment bankers
1996 to 2001
Consumer spending on book rose 16%
Unit sales dropped 6%
(Readers spend more and purchased fewer books)
–Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment bankers
2001: Households purchasing at least one book 56.5%
–Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment bankers
The mean age of book buyers
1997: Age 15-39: 26.5% of the books bought
2001: Age 15-39: 20.8% of the books bought
1997: Age over 55: 33.7% of the books bought.
2001: Age over 55: 44.1% of the books bought
–Ipsos NPD reported in Publishers Weekly, January 6, 2003

Posted by Peter Collingridge in Design, Publishing, Quotes.

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