Old-Style Reader vs. New-Style
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Part 3 of 3: The Brave New Publishing World
If I’m correct when I posited over the last two days that there’s a new kind of agent and a new kind of publisher in town, what about the reader? What’s a new-style reader look like?
Obviously, this is a core question for everyone in publishing–writers, agents, editors, marketers, sales reps, bookstores–to ask.
Because, really, when you come down to it, the reader is the end consumer for which we’re creating product. (Duh.) If we don’t know what’s changed and what’s remained the same for the reader from, say, 10 years ago, or even 5 years, we don’t understand how to meet that person’s needs.
The reader is, in essence, the bottomline for everyone. If the reader doesn’t buy our product, publishing’s entire food chain breaks down.
First, here’s the good news: one study shows that the number of hours a reader in the U.S. spends reading books in 2002 was 106 hours per year. In 2012, the number of hours (estimated, of course) is 107.
Another study showed that U.S. consumers spent 104 hours reading in 2008, and the projected time spent reading in 2012 is 107.3.
Both studies indicate that book reading time, if anything, is increasing.
Harris Interactive gathered statistics on how many books U.S. adults read in 2010 and in 2011. The comparison between the years shows that reading habits are holding relatively steady, with people reading approximately the same number of books each year except for two marked differences. The number of individuals who read no books in a year increased from 9 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2011. Readers who in 2010 read 6-10 books went down from 16 percent to 15 percent, and those who read 11-20 books in 2010 were 21 percent while that group went down to 16 percent in 2011. Those who read more than 21 books per year went up from 19 percent to 20 percent in 2011.
That indicates a loss of readers in the middle range, while the avid readers read more. That’s concerning for all of us.
But everyone–and everything–is competing for those same, finite hours of the reader’s life. So how do readers decide which book to pick up next? Personal recommendations win the day, coming in at 49.2%. But, coming in second? Bookstore staff recommendations. Word-of-mouth has been the leading way to get readers to buy books for as long as I can remember–and in this brave new world that remains a constant.
Here’s a slide show that provides more info, including that readers skew older and female. And the affect e-readers is having on buying decisions. It’s an informative show!
What do you think has changed for readers in recent years? How have your habits changed?
What insights did you gain either through this post or the slide show?
Were you encouraged or discouraged?