90% sounds unbelievable, a number claimed by a despot in a fraudulent election. But no! It’s the Pew Research Center, reporting for 2015, the percentage of adults with “college +” level of education who said they’d read at least one book in the previous twelve months. 81% said those were printed books, but a whopping 43% said they’d read an E-book as well.
Full disclosure: I do love this stuff. My protagonist, Susanna Lucid, Ph.D. is an academic who studies crime statistics. “There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damn lies, and statistics!” her detractors thunder, attributing the quote to Mark Twain, but the reader learns that Susanna is usually right and it probably wasn’t Twain who said that.
The good news is that readership data is relatively stable. Printed books are not dead yet. Digital sales are in the 20% range and print sales remain relatively strong.
A closer look at the Pew Research indicates, it’s not just effete intellectuals. Of those with income of $75,000 or more, 86% said they’d read a book. Among the people who live in rural America, readership is lower than the urban or suburban residents, but still, 66% said they’d read a book. An interesting result is that young people, 18 to 29 years old, (80%) are more likely to say they’ve read a book than their elders (about 70%).
Bottom line: those most likely to be book readers are: women, young adults, highly educated, higher income, and whites. Headed to the Writers League of Texas Conference at the end of June where agents and editors will educate all of us about the current state of the publishing industry. Plenty of good classes on “craft” as well as how to do business. Can’t wait.
What about Mysteries?
Sisters in Crime commissioned a study in 2010, (take a look, www.sistersincrime.org) that yielded information specific to the mystery genre:
68% of buyers were female
48% over the age of 55
48% live in suburban areas
35% live in the south
77% live in households with no children living at home.
The mystery readers were similar to other fiction readers in income, but less likely to participate in social media, and less likely to read blogs. (Back to my conclusion: I’d like to see an update on the 2010 survey but sounds like my target audience is not likely to read this blog. I suspect what they’re looking for is a good story.)
The survey found, the key factors that influence my target readers are – no surprise – “like the author or series.” Recommendations are important, as are reviews, and cover art. Online reviews and blogs did influence 48%, almost as influential as “saw it on a best seller list”. And 56% were influenced by seeing the book prominently displayed in the bookstore.
Memo to self: Get to work on revisions for a good story: make these unique characters rise to the occasion when confronted with daunting obstacles. We can worry about reviews and bookstore displays once it’s on the shelves.