Every year, Bowker publishes the U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report. The complete report is very price, about $800. However, Bowker is kind enough to give a few highlights from their report each year in their news release announcing the availability of the report for purchase.
Information for the report is culled from the Bowker Market Research consumer panel of almost 70,000 Americans who bought books of any format and from any source in 2012. This year, Bowker’s report included growth, growth, and more growth.
- The number of books purchased online in 2012 grew to 44% of all book purchases, up from 39% in 2011.
- The number of print books published grew 3% in 2012 to 301,642 titles.
- Bowker estimates that approximately 3% of books bought by Americans were by self-published authors (making up about 8% of ebook purchases).
- eBooks continued to rise in popularity, accounting for 11% of spending in 2012, compared to 7% in 2011.
- Women increased their lead over men in book buying, accounting for 58% of overall book spending in 2012, up from 55% in 2011. Women aged 30 to 44 are the biggest book consumer.
- The slowly improving economy is slowly improving the climate for purchasing books. By the end of 2012, 53% of consumers said the economy was having no effect on their book buying habits, up from 51% at the end of 2011.
All this is good news for publishing—especially for small publishers and independently published authors. Consider the implications:
- Online retailers sell almost half of all books. That makes it easier to sell your books. It is now more important to have your books available through online retailers than through brick-and-mortar retailers. Of course, having your books available through both is still best, but if can only secure online retailers, you are still in the game.
- Print books continue to grow. So, if you sell print books, don’t despair, they are still being made and purchased, meaning you can still sell your print books.
- Knowing that women dominate the book buying market is important. This knowledge allows you to adjust your marketing efforts accordingly. Market to women (even if your book is for guys) because women buy books not only for themselves, but for other people too.
- Despite the slow growth in the economy, people are still buying books. This means that if you develop your audience, you will reap sales.
Growth: Make this word your motto and strive to grow your book sales.