Book Buying Behavior

Last month, Bowker released a report based on data from their collections. Bowker is the exclusive agency for monitoring information pertaining to ISBNs and SANs and maintains Books In Print, a list of nearly all English-language books available within the United States.

Bowker’s report, titled “2008 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report,” provides insights into who is buying books and what motivates them to buy.self_help_library_home

The report costs $999 to purchase, but Bowker has released a few of the report’s finding to entice buyers to purchase the report.  Here are a few of the findings in the report:

  • 57 percent of book buyers are women.
  • These 57 percent purchase 65 percent of the books sold in the United States.
  • While women made the majority of purchases in the paperback, hardcover, and audio-book segments, men made 55 percent of the ebook purchases.
  • Generation X (born early1960’s to late 1970’s) consumers buy more books online than any other demographic group, with 30 percent of them buying their books through the Internet.
  • 21 percent of book buyers said that they became aware of a book through some sort of online promotion or ad.

Stop and think about these statistics and their implications.

  1. Women purchase more books then men, but men purchase more ebooks. That means that your advertising and promotions should take gender into consideration. Your marketing campaigns might be more effective if you are targeting men for ebook sales and women for print book sales.
  2. Online advertising and promotions are important. One-fifth of all book buyers became aware of a book online. Don’t grow weary in promoting your book on the Internet. It is an important medium for marketing.
  3. Are your books easy to purchase online? If your books sell to Generation X consumers, they must be readily available for online purchases.

Don’t overlook statistics. They can be great guides in helping you develop an effective book promotion campaign.

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Take a Twitter Book Tour

One of the newest ways to promote a book through social media is to take a Twitter book tour.

A Twitter tour is where an author shows up on Twitter for a designated time or times and answers questions from fans. Since it is Twitter, each question must be kept to 140 characters and each answer is only 140 characters. Everyone attending the tour can see all the questions and answers.

Recently, Joseph Finder, the author of the new book Vanished, hosted a Twitter book tour. Here is how it worked. Joseph designated one hour on three different days that he would be available for questions on Twitter. Then during that time, anyone could post a question to Joe by simply using a subject tag called a hashtag. The hashtag Joe used was his name, #JosephFinder. Joe then followed all the tweets with his hashtag and answered each one.04_04_5_prev

If you want to learn more about Joseph Finder’s Twitter book tour, visit his website or login to Twitter and search for the hashtag #JosephFinder.

If you are releasing a new book soon, consider adding a Twitter book tour to your marketing plan. Make sure to promote your Twitter tour like any other event. Generate enough buzz and you might have a great Twitter conversation about your new book with potential readers.

Another author did a similar book tour on Facebook. She used her fan page to have fans post questions on the page’s wall that she answered during a given period of time.

Let me know if you schedule a Twitter book tour for your next book.

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Marketing Wisdom From the Master

God, through Solomon (the wisest of all men who lived), said, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well,” Ecclesiastes 11:6.

While Solomon was speaking to a farming society, we can apply this wise principle to our own lives. In applying this principle to marketing, we might rewrite it to say, “Participate in book promotion activities in the morning, and at evening, continue to promote your book, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this marketing endeavor or that, or whether both will do equally well.”sowing-maize-thumb5064018

Smart book promoters have said that an author should do a minimum of three things every day to promote their books. If you are having trouble coming up with three things to do each day, choose three from this list of eighteen no-cost book promotion ideas that you can do on a daily basis.

  1. Write a post for your blog.
  2. Write and send out press releases for news related to your book.
  3. Send out a review copy of your book to a potential reviewer.
  4. Write a thank you note to someone who has reviewed your book.
  5. Search for a blog that reaches your target audience and ask the blogger if he/she will review your book for their blog. Offer to give an extra copy they can give away from their blog.
  6. Make a thoughtful comment on a blog that reaches your target audience. Make sure to include your website or mention how your book ties into what is being talked about.
  7. Write and submit an article to an online or print publication. Include your book and website in your author byline.
  8. Post free sample chapters of your book on free social publishing sites around the Internet.
  9. Offer your book as a giveaway for a fundraiser.
  10. Join a new social networking site and start connecting.
  11. Participate in discussion groups or forum conversations via social networking that reach your target audience.
  12. Participate in conversations on Twitter.
  13. Run a Twitter contest.
  14. Update your author profile.
  15. Write book reviews for books reaching your target audience on
  16. Seek out a speaking engagement.
  17. Seek out a media interview.
  18. Pray over your book, your marketing efforts, and seek God’s direction.

This list is by no means an exhaustive list of daily marketing ideas. There are plenty more creative things you can do to promote your book. If you need further inspiration, I suggest you read Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, it’s chock full of great book promotion ideas and resources.

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Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award

Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award honors books produced by small publishers each year for outstanding contribution to Christian life.

Nominations are accepted in eight categories: Fiction, Biography, Christian Living, Relationships/Family, Bible Study/Theology, Children’s Book 4-8 years, Children’s Book 8-12 years, and Young Adult (12+ years). Nominations must be received by November 15, 2009.

  • Books must be published by a small publisher with annual revenues of $350,000 or less.
  • Nominated books must be Christian in nature and intended for the Christian marketplace.
  • All nominated books must be printed in English and for sale in the United States.
  • Any small publisher can nominate titles for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award.
  • Nominated books must be published in 2008 or 2009.

To view the complete eligibility guidelines and download the nomination form, visit of the Year Award Logo

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is the sponsor of this book award. CSPA will invite Christian retailers and book readers to vote on the nominated titles in February and March 2010. The winners of the award will be the books that receive the most votes. Christian retailers are encouraged to highlight the books they vote for in their stores during Small Press Month of March.

Entering your titles in book awards programs should be included in every book marketing plan. The small amount of investment this requires has the potential to reap large rewards. Winning a book award adds credibility and prestige to a book. It also prolongs the life of a book. A book award ushers in a new round of publicity for both the author and the book resulting in new sales.

If you are looking for a good list of book awards to consider, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace has a whole chapter devoted to book awards that are friendly to religious small press and self-published books.

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Is Book Publishing in Peril?

Many people think the publishing world is in trouble. One of the main reasons it may be in trouble is that the number of people reading books is declining.

I recently read some interesting statistics:

  • Estimates from surveys found that around 25 percent of American adults read zero books a year (that means none).
  • Over one-third of foreign-born adults in the United States do not have high school diplomas.
  • One out of every three young adults drops out of high school every year.
  • The world literacy ranking of the United States is dropping every year.

The horizon for Christian book publishers looks bleak. Take the statistics above and the trend toward people reading less, add to this the shrinking Christian population in our country and Christian publishers may face a tough future.2166817992_9ff52679dd

In a single generation, the number of people who label themselves – even loosely – as Christians has dropped 11 percent. According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), Americans who claim no religion at all now outrank every major religious group except Catholics and Baptists. People with no religious affiliation currently represent 15 percent of the United States population, which is almost twice as many as in 1990.

For Christian publishers, these numbers represent a shrinking consumer pool.

What can authors and publishers do about this trend?

I believe that we (Christians) need to become better evangelists. We need to do a better job of passing on our faith to our children as well as to the people in our circle of influence. How this is done will look different for each person. However, as authors and publishers, one way we can do this is by writing and publishing quality, cutting-edge books that help people find God. Then we can be generous with these books. Boldly give them (for free) to non-Christians and seekers who you meet. Pray for God’s blessing on each book that you give away that the message would touch that person’s heart.

I also believe that unless we (American adults) read and pass on the love of reading to the next generation, the world of book publishing will shrink in size and scope. Consider how you might pass on the love of reading in your circle of influence. Is there a way you can encourage children at your church to read? Is there a children’s author you could have come visit the Children’s ministry at your church? What about volunteering your time to read to children at your church and partnering with your church bookstore or library to come up with a program to encourage children to read Christian books?

More ideas and suggestions are welcome.

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