The last few weeks, I’ve been slowly working my way through the Pew Research Center report Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits (which is sad because it’s a short report). The report has a chapter dedicated to how people discover and where they get their books (Chapter 2, for those interested). While most of the findings weren’t too surprising, a few things jumped out at me.
• I didn’t find it surprising that both younger (<30 years old) and older (>30 years old) readers depended most on family, friends, and co-workers for book recommendations. Over 64% of all readers found their books this way. What did surprise me was that younger readers were less likely to get recommendations from online book stores than older readers. I always think of the under-30 crowd as having gone “all-in” on the internet, yet even senior citizens got more recommendations from online book stores than readers under 30.
• Most people preferred to buy (as opposed to borrow) print and ebooks, but tended to be more selective when buying printed books. Survey respondents tended to view print books as investments, and “chosen in order to re-read, share with others, or pass on to one’s children.” Ebooks weren’t viewed the same.
• Most people who listened to audio books preferred to borrow them rather than buy them. This surprised me a little, but then when I thought about it, the only person I know who buys audiobooks is my wife. Everyone else I know who listens to audiobooks checks them out of the library.
So as a writer, the take home message seems be that the best advertising is word of mouth (which is not surprising). Also, selling ebooks is likely to be easier than selling paper books because ebook buyers appear to be less selective about the books they buy. This last finding is consistent with the rise in ebook sales in 2012. As someone who is considering self-publishing, these findings are encouraging.