New Industry Report Released on Consumer Book-Buying Behaviors

Bibliographic information provider Bowker has released the “2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report,” which includes consumer-based research on who buys books and why. The 2009 Annual Report is culled from more 44,000 total respondents, responsible for the purchase of 118,000 books in 2009.

According to Bowker, the report includes in-depth book data, demographics, psychographics and genre-category breakdowns. “This year’s report provides data not available in any other source, with a scope that captures the changing nature of retail channels, including the growing presence of such mass merchandisers as Wal-Mart,” the company reported in a press release issued this week. “Further, the report captures the explosion of new electronic formats.”

“With the exponential growth of e-books, the continuously shifting channels and buying patterns of consumers, and the need to effectively micro-market to readers through social networks, Bowker’s PubTrack Consumer is fast becoming an indispensable tool for today’s publishing industry,” says Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publisher services for Bowker. “While traditional [Point of Sale] data is still valuable, having a more complete view of today’s book buyer is essential to thriving in an industry that’s as fast-paced as ours.”

The 2009 Annual Report has been expanded from last year’s report to include exploration into quarterly trends, in-depth analysis on digital books and virtual “bookshelves” that facilitate understanding of consumer buying behavior. The content also includes Bowker’s 2009 book production statistics, which reveal the growth of print-on-demand and provide a benchmark for the number of new titles—and their genre breakdowns—produced in the United States.

Some highlights from the report are:

*More than 40 percent of Americans over the age of 13 purchased a book in 2009, and the average age of the American book buyer is 42.
*Women lead men in overall purchases, contributing 64 percent of sales. Even among detective and thriller genres, women top 60 percent of the sales. Fantasy titles are purchased evenly by men and women.
*Baby-boomers are the largest purchasing generation, making up 30 percent of sales. Their elders—matures—contribute 16 percent.
*More income doesn’t mean more book purchases. Thirty-two percent of the books purchased in 2009 were from households earning less than $35,000 annually, and 20 percent of those sales were for children’s books.
*The top-selling non-fiction genre is biography-autobiography.

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