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Highlights from the U.S. Book Consumer Annual Review


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All of the data shared below was derived from the, 2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review, which is prepared by Bowker Market Research and Publishers Weekly and published 10th August 2012.


I attended a presentation, given by PW and Bowker earlier this week where copies of the report were made available.  The list price is $999, so I was happy to score a copy. 


The presenters Jim Milliot Co-editorial Director, Publishers Weekly and Carl Kulo U.S. Director, Bowker



"The Annual Review explores demographic changes in the context of overall market trends culled from the Bowker Market Research consumer panel of almost 70,000 Americans who bought books of any format and from any source in 2011."




Again, the information in the 2012 book reflects purchaseS made in 2011 (the 2013 edition will be out soon), so that data presented immediately below is somewhat stale, but still interesting and valuable if you are involved in the book business.


Some highlights from the 2012 book include;

  • Amazon is the country's largest bookseller; not matter how you measure it sales (26%), units or book buyers
  • Online retailers accounted for 39% of consumer book spending
  • Independent Bookstores' share of the book market rose 1%
  • Bookclubs shared dropped to 2% from 13% in 2009 (ex. Black Expressions, Book-of-the-Month Club)
  • B&N was the 2nd largest bookseller with a 16% share


During the presentation the 2012 data (from the forthcoming 2013 edition) was presented and discussed.  Online sale represent 43% of book purchases.  Amazon continues to lead the way -- no one else comes close. Walmart and Costco appear to be scaling back on book sales.  It looks like B&N will close stores going forward.  Also we see that;

  • eBook sales have slowed and the decline in the sales of physical books is slowing and appears to be stabilizing.
  • women represent 60% of book buyers, 65% of units and 58% of dollars spent

While discussing how people learn about books, social media was not listed as a significant factor.  While many in the audience reacted in surprise.  I was not surprised in the least.  The most common way people learn about a books are;

  • Like this author (23%)
  • Other at 22% (includes, Radio, TV, bestsellers lists, reviews and advertising),
  • In-store display 19%


Of course this is just a microscopic sample of the information provided and discussed. 


The presenters Jim Milliot and Carl Kulo U.S. Director, Bowker Market Research will also be presenting at Book Expo America in a few weeks.




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