Sunday, June 3, 2007

New Data Reveals Why Women Buy Books

Publishers and book sellers may have access to excellent data that show "what's selling," but precious little information exists on "why" books sell, especially to women. The average American woman who belongs to a social network spends about $500 a year on books. That should make her a fairly important customer, someone the book publishing industry watches carefully and knows well. Unfortunately, little is known about her book-related preferences, attitudes, and behaviors.

The Women and Books 2007 study (website) attempts to take some of the guesswork and the gamble out of book publishing. The study provides a snapshot of the "average woman" purchaser of non-fiction books. A summary of the report findings, which included over 100 factors cross tabulated with age, income, education, location of home, and family/work situation, focuses on issues ranging from how many books women purchase for their personal libraries each year to what things influence their actual purchase decisions. The summary is available to all Book Expo America attendees at the Nielsen Bookscan/Nielsen BooksData Booth #4477.

"The study is a meaningful demonstration of how research and audience analysis, essential tools in numerous other industries, can help the publishing industry know more about who their customers are and the factors that drive their behaviors," says David Kendric Brake, CEO and founder of Content Connections (website), the company that conducted the first-of-its-kind Women and Books 2007 Study.

The book business is just beginning to recognize how debilitating this disconnect with their customers can be. A recent New York Times article on "The Greatest Mystery: Making of A Best Seller" by Shira Boss, states, "Some experts wonder if book publishers might uncover more books like this (best sellers) if they tried harder to find out more about their buyers and what they want." The article goes on to quote an un-named editor: "People think publishing is a business, but it's a casino."

The survey was developed and administered online by Content Connections between March 8th (International Women's Day) and May 13th (Mother's Day) 2007. More than 2,000 women took the comprehensive survey and 1,601 responses were validated for use in the study's final results.

Here is what we found out about an "average woman" book buyer:

Demographic Info:

Age: 45
Annual Household Income: $88,525
Educational Background:
Bachelor's Degree
Where She Lives: A Large City (Population of 500,000 or
Family & Professional Situation: Married, works outside the home
and a member of at least one professional, social or service organization.
Book Buying Habits:

Last year, she purchased an average of nearly 28 books - for herself and others.

She spent $280 on non-fiction titles and $147 on fiction titles.

She bought 1.64 audio books and 1 E-Book.

The average woman in the study is a $500-a-year customer for publishers and booksellers.

A third of her book purchases are online but she likes to visit her local bookstore and spends 39.2 minutes per visit.

Her favorite categories included: "Mind, Body & Spirit," "Biographies/Autobiographies/Memoirs," and "Religion & Spirituality."

Her least favorite include: "Antiques & Collectibles," "Sales," and "Sports & Adventure."

Sixty percent of the non-fiction books she purchased in the last 12 months were paperback.

On a regular basis she gets book recommendations from friends and associates

She is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to purchase non-fiction titles because of a
recommendation from a friend or associate

While browsing she is strongly influenced by a book's back cover copy and its table of contents, but she is not very influenced by quotes and endorsements placed on the book.

She is more likely to visit an author's website than a publisher's website.

Book reviews in national newspapers influence her more than reviews in local or regional newspapers.
The study also asked women if they had intentions to write a book. Forty-three percent said that they did. As a follow-up question, they were asked what information they would find most helpful if they were going to write a book. Not surprisingly, perhaps, a common answer was "more information about what readers want."

For more information and to download graphs/charts and the full report, go to the study's online pressroom for Women and Books 2007. Interviews with the study authors from Content Connections are available at BEA by appointment or on a drop-in basis at the Nielsen Bookscan/Nielsen BooksData Booth #4477.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very surprising to me that they are not interested in the endorsements. So authors could save their money chasing endorsements and reviews!