December 7, 2019

Highlights: Bowker Releases 2012 U.S. Consumer Book Buying Demographics and Statistics

From Bowker:

In the year following the exit of Borders from the book retail scene, online retailers — led by Amazon — earned 44 percent of Americans’ book dollars, up from 39 percent in 2011. The insights into where book buyers are spending come from the 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review, the publishing industry’s only complete consumer-based report integrating channel, motivation and category analysis of U.S. book buyers.

The Review, published this month by Bowker Market Research and industry trade magazine Publishers Weekly, notes that while book retailer Barnes & Noble (including BN.com) remained the second largest bookselling outlet, it depended more on sales of print books in 2012 than it did in 2011, with consumer ebook spending there declining from six percent in 2011 to four percent.

Information 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 and reveals another pivotal year in the evolution of the book industry.

Additional Highlights

  • Women increased their lead over men in book buying, accounting for 58 percent of overall book spending in 2012, up from 55 percent in 2011. However, men are bigger hardcover buyers – the only area where their buying outpaces women’s.
  • The slowly improving economy has improved the climate for purchasing books. By the close of 2012, 53 percent of consumers said the economy was having no effect on their book buying habits, up from 51 percent at the end of 2011. 
  • Ebooks continue their steady upward trend, with an 11 percent share of spending in 2012, compared to seven percent in 2011.
  • The growth of ebooks varies widely among the different publishing categories with their deepest penetration focused in fiction, particularly in the mystery/detective, romance, and science fiction categories, where ebooks accounted for more than 20 percent of 2012 spending.
  • Despite the growth of ebooks, traditional print book output grew three percent in 2012, from 292,037 titles in 2011 to 301,642 in 2012. 

The Review contains Bowker’s popular breakdown of print production by genre and for “Unclassified” works comprising mostly reprints and Print-on-Demand, public domain works marketed almost exclusively on the web.

This category bounced back with 11 percent growth after a steep 65 percent decline between 2010 (3.8 million titles) and 2011 (1.3 million titles). In 2012, the Reprint/POD sector accounted for the largest ISBN output – more than 1.4 million titles — and as a result, drove an overall increase in print book output of ten percent.

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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