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Director’s Desk:
Stats You Can Use to Grow

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As I was reading the 2001 Consumer Research Study on Book Purchasing (prepared this year for the Book Industry Study Group by Ipsos BookTrends), I wondered how many of our members and other readers of the PMA Newsletter have ever seen a copy of it. And, more important, how many have referred to it before they published their first, second, or later titles.

Perhaps a quick review of this report would help you avoid some unfortunate choices in a publishing program or offer insight into what areas are growing.

By highlighting some information from this survey, I hope to share with our membership an overview of what’s happening in our industry… and, perhaps, why it is happening.


Why Do They Buy?

To begin, after nine years of steady growth, the U.S. economy plummeted in 2001 (as we all know). The only good news from this year is that the inflation rate was holding steady at just under 3%. In 2001, consumers purchased 1.6 billion books. A book’s cover art, a referral by someone known to the reader, reviews, price, and type of display are among the key drivers of purchases in the adult trade book category. Personal recommendations influence buying for teenagers. Store displays prompt most children’s book impulse buying.

Since many publishers seemed to build their whole publishing program around “getting on Oprah,” it was interesting to note that fewer than 2% of the adults purchasing books listed that as their primary reason for pur=”hte.


Facts to Fuel Profits

What genres are the most heavily purchased? Popular fiction wins with 55%; nonfiction religious gets 10%; cooking/crafts, 9%; and percentages for other categories are lower still. How much do consumers like to pay? The largest percentage fell in the $5 to $7.99 range (28%), which leads one to believe that this is mostly the mass market paperbacks. The following price ranges each captured 19% of the market: $3-$4.99; $10-$14.99; and $15-$24.99.

This study can help publishers determine which channels are driving the sales; what genres are the most popular with consumers; and how one may possibly gain market share. Did you know that customers 55 years and older account for more than one-third of all books bought? The graying of America has great influence over our industry, as it does on others.

Like PMA, the Book Industry Study Group is a nonprofit trade association. PMA has been a member for more than 15 years. BISG is a nonpartisan group, reporting data about our industry and setting standards as well. The Consumer Research Study comes to all PMA members, and it’s covered by their membership fee. It can also be purchased by nonmembers. If you’re interested in further information on BISG, you can find them at www.bisg.org. You’ll also discover more information on the study by venturing into the “Publications” area of their Web site.


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