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Book shopping habits


Our online survey has been investigating your book shopping habits - thank you for your response. These are the results.

A large number of writers like to shop alone. The survey gives a strong impression that book shopping is not really a social activity.

The next question forced you to choose one option. We wanted to know where you shopped. You like to shop around.

Just over half of you will wait for for the paperback version of a new title to appear before buying it, but that means that almost half of you are willing to pay the premium for the hardback.

However, it appears that you do take careful note of the price you are being asked for a book. A significant group (22%) said they had no fixed rule about the price they were willing to play. However, in other questions it is clear that you are price-aware and 'value for money' is an issue in your purchase decisions.

Your shopping habit

We wanted to compare the factors which made you pick and then buy a book. You were asked to rank the various issues so the figures take a little interpreting and can't be set out in a simple chart. These are the impressions you gave:

  • The name of the author was overwhelmingly the key issue in both the browsing and the purchase decision. This ties in with what surveys have shown about book-buyers in general.
  • The author was only matched in importance by pre-publicity, rather than in-shop promotion, implying that you often went shopping primed  to look for a particular book. This impression was confirmed by two other questions.
  • Cover design was important to browsers and it also had a big influence on the purchase decision.
  • But others pay more attention to the cover blurb when making their decision to purchase.
  • Media exposure significantly enhances the chances that a book will be picked up.
  • A few people did notice the publisher, but for most people the publisher's brand was not relevant in purchase decisions.

So anybody planning a marketing campaign should hedge their bets. Being able to present a book as a prize-winner influences some buyers,  but others take more note of cover endorsements or comment in the media.

Comparing browse-v-purchase decision, the location in the shop could triple the browsing probability and people preferred tables to shelves. But when it came to purchase, price and special offers emerged as a key issue. But none of the factors  displaced the author as the most important factor in any purchase decision.

But, there were two clear sub-sets for whom the cover blurb and the author were the key issues, and a smaller group who bought their books by the pound, where price was the key to any purchase decision.

Your reading habit

Using the Internet was very popular indeed as a way of buying books. The search facility and the comments by others were welcomed by most users. A handful said they used it for their book research but still bought books from shops. However, this group was outnumbered by people who enjoyed browsing online so much that they found it 'addictive'. Online book buying has a strong age profile, falling in the 35-50 age group.


Books read

Book reading habits indicate that the respondents to this survey got through a stack of 45 books each last year. Bookshops were the main source with 9 books from that source and an average of 2.5 books had been given as gifts.

This chart required some fancy statistical manipulation as a few people distorted the figures. There was a clear group which does not buy online but  borrows large numbers of books from the library. Not surprisingly, all this group were over 65.

The figures also conceal the fact that most people bought more books online than in bookshops. However, these online shoppers are masked because this group bought slightly fewer books overall and there were quite a few bookshop-aholics.

The respondents were, as usual for WritersServices, 60% female and split between Europe and North America. There are some annoying spammers that can auto-fill forms such as this survey. Nearly 100 surveys were eliminated as it was impossible to verify that they were completed by people and not machines. We will guard against this in the future by asking you to make a comment. If the spam is a marketing message about ring- tones we can filter these out.

The survey was conducted from Feb-June 2006.

©Chas Jones 2006