Today I’m pleased to feature a return visit from Jerry Peterson whose post, Where Are We Going in the Book Biz?, appeared here on June 21st.
Jerry writes crime novels set in Kansas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Early’s Fall, his current novel, features Kansas Sheriff James Early – the Early in the title – and takes place in 1949. Early’s Winter, the second book in the series, will be out next month. Peterson will follow that with Thou Shalt Not Murder, a new crime novel series set in Tennessee. Book 1, The Watch, will be out in September and Book 2, Rage, later in the year.
Before becoming a writer, Peterson taught speech, English and theater in Wisconsin high schools, then worked in communications for farm organizations for a decade in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas and Colorado. He followed that with a decade as a reporter, photographer, and editor for newspapers in Colorado, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.
Jerry, thanks for this follow-up to your original guest appearance.
What We Learn When a Reader Asks a Question by Jerry Peterson
We writers like to hear from readers. Often they cause us to rethink something we’ve said or go dig for more information.
Example, in my guest post here on June 19, Susan Oleksiw said in her comment, “The book world is changing for sure, and your statistics tell us something interesting about it. Are women really leading the way?”
I had said a recent Pew Research survey reported that more women buy e-readers than do men – 21 percent versus 16 percent.
I then said, “Perhaps we men aren’t as eager to give up real books as women appear to be. But the real truth is more women read books, particularly fiction, than do we men.”
That’s the perception we have in the book business, but I’ve never seen any real stats.
So I went Googling and found Charlotte Abbott’s May 14, 2009, post on the website Follow The Reader.
She was presenting the results of a survey PubTrack had made of 36,000 book buyers, the sample selected according to age, gender, income, household size and location.
PubTrack had asked 75 questions.
In answer to the question who was buying books in the sample year 2008, PubTrack found this:
– 57 percent of book buyers are female and they buy 65 percent of books (e.g. women buy books and they buy in volume).
The survey also provided these results:
– 50 percent of Americans over 13 bought a book in the sample year
– The average age of the most frequent book buyers was 50
– 67 percent of books were bought by people over 42; Gen Xer bought 17 percent of books; Gen Y bought 10 percent
– Of books purchased by those who earn $100,000 or more, mystery and detective fiction represent 16 percent of sales, juvenile 13 percent, romance 6 percent, thrillers 4 percent, and comics and graphic novels 4 percent
– 41 percent of all books are purchased by those who earn less than $35,000
– The average price of a book purchased in the sample year 2008 was $10.08
– 31 percent of all book purchases are impulse buys.
Whoa, a third of the books people buy, they buy them just because they see them online or in a store. The buyers weren’t shopping for those titles.
That says you and I better have really good book covers if we want to get in on those impulse buys.
One more thing that came out of the survey, people are twice as likely to buy a specific book because of online reviews they’ve read than as a result of reviews they read in newspapers or magazines.
That tells all of us writers we’d really better hustle to get those online reviews.
Thanks for the follow-up blog post, Jerry. This is great information and a powerful incentive for authors to work a lot harder to engage with their readers on blogs and sites like Goodreads, in addition to personal appearances at book clubs, bookstores, and libraries.
To learn more about Jerry and Early’s Fall, visit his website and his blog. Jerry also can be found on Facebook with his regular page, a page for Jerry Peterson, wordslinger, the Early’s Winter page and his Jerry Peterson Mysteries page.