If book sales are important to your bottom line in anyway, you may want to take notes. The options keep changing and bookstores are starting to feel the pressure. One major chain closed its doors for good this month while some of the others have rolled out their own e-Reader devices and are upgrading them regularly.
Even The New York Times has changed the way it looks at bestsellers. It used to be just fiction and non-fiction; now it’s also print versus e-Reader. And this is for a good reason as one in six Americans (15%) uses an e-Reader device up from less than one in ten (8%) a year ago. Also, among those who do not have an e-Reader, one in six (15%) say they are likely to get an e-Reader device in the next six months.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,183 adults surveyed online between July 11 and 18, 2011 by Harris Interactive.
While some may lament the introduction of the e-Reader as a death knell for books, the opposite is probably true. First, those who have e-Readers do, in fact, read more. Overall, 16% of Americans read between 11 and 20 books a year with one in five reading 21 or more books in a year (20%). But, among those who have an e-Reader, one-third read 11-20 books a year (32%) and over one-quarter read 21 or more books in an average year (27%).
E-Reader users are also more likely to buy books. One-third of Americans (32%) say they have not purchased any books in the past year compared to only 6% of e-Reader users who say the same. One in ten Americans purchased between 11 and 20 books (10%) or 21 or more books (9%) in the past year. Again, e-Reader users are more likely to have bought, or downloaded books, as 17% purchased between 11 and 20 and 17% purchased 21 or more books in the past year.
Change in reading habits
One of the criticisms of e-Readers is that people who have them may download more books than they would traditionally purchase, but read at the same levels. So far this criticism is not holding true at all.
Half of both e-Reader users (50% and non-users (51%) say they read the same amount as they did six months ago.
However, while one-quarter of non e-Reader users (24%) say they are reading less than they did before (compared to just 8% of e-Reader users), over one-third of e-Reader users (36%) say they are reading more compared to just 16% of non-users.
Regardless of how they are reading it, there are types of books people like to read. Among those who say they read at least one book in an average year, three-quarters say they read both fiction (76%) and non-fiction (76%) but certain types of books rise to the top in both categories.
Among fiction categories, almost half of readers say they read mystery, thriller and crime books (47%), while one-quarter read science fiction (25%), literature (23%) and romance (23%).
One in ten read graphic novels (10%) while 8% read “chick-lit” and 5% read Westerns.
Among non-fiction categories, almost three in ten readers say they read biographies (29%) while one-quarter read history (27%) and religious and spirituality books (24%).
Just under one in five readers (18%) read self-help books, while 13% read true crime, 12% read current affairs, 11% read political books and 10% read business books.
E-Readers are definitely here to stay and this means the publishing world needs to learn to change with the times. The printing press is considered one of the world’s greatest inventions and one of the first printed books, the Gutenberg Bible is still considered one of the rarest among bibliophiles.
There will always be a place for books in hard cover or paperback. But, there must also be a place for reading devices as well. Readers are quickly catching on to this wave as have the booksellers. This is a huge transition time for publishing companies and how they adapt will determine who is still standing ten years from now.
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