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Books and Their Competition: Bowker’s Latest Report

June 5, 2009

At BEA last week, Bowker’s James Howitt presented Data Crunch: Books and Their Competition for Leisure Time Attention – How do They Stack Up? Below, I’ve embedded his powerpoint.  It’s a must-scan document for book marketers.

From a book industry point of view, this analysis goes farther to examine book consumers in light of the culture than any report I’ve seen.   It does, like most studies done by book industry people, focus on “book buyers'” habits with little comparison to the non-reader/non-buyer.  Still, some important stats should put a little fear in and a little fire under the book industry.

  1. The number of Americans over age 13 that purchased a book in 2008 is down 20% from 2007 (from 62% down to 50%)
  2. Book reading in 2008 was down from 2007.  Online viewing was up.  Book buyers spend 3 times as much time online as they do with a book.  (You can bet that for non-buyers this gap is much wider.)
  3. Roughly 70% of books are bought by Baby Boomers and their parents.

So here’s the question:  what do the stats have to reveal before the industry says, “Maybe we should focus on converting non-readers into readers”?

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