Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who Reads Mysteries?

Publishers Marketplace directed me to a survey of mystery readers commissioned by Sisters-in-Crime. Bowker PubTrack conducted the survey of 1,056 mystery readers in September, 2010.

According to the study, the respondents were drawn from two sources:

The study "used PubTrack™ Consumer’s monthly panel of U.S. book buying men, women and teens, balanced to US Census ... Respondents were drawn from a pool of 75,000 survey respondents who bought a book in 2009 and the first half of2010. The survey was given to a broad range of mystery readers, notjust seriously involved mystery fans."

In addition, "Sisters in Crime provided a supplemental contact list from mystery bookstores."

The readers were classified as avid (37% said they are almost always reading a mystery), frequent (51% said they often read mysteries) and occasional (12% said they sometimes read mysteries).

Not surprisingly, the gender of readers breaks heavily female (65%) to male (36%).

I'll confess to being a bit surprised at the age spread. Seventy-one percent (71%) of the readers were over 50 years old while only 15% were in their 40's and 14% were 39 years old or under. The bottom line here is that seven out of ten of the readers were over 45.

Where the books came from was interesting:

  • 19% of all readers acquire mysteries at libraries

  • 11% of all mysteries are sold through book clubs such as Mystery Guild

  • 39% of all mysteries are purchased in stores

E-book sales are growing fast. In 2009, 1.7% of books sold were e-books. In Q2 of 2010, 7% of books sold were e-books.

Another interesting element was the reason why the readers selected a particular mystery to read:
  • 53% chose a specific mystery because they liked the author
  • 39% liked the series
  • 29% liked a character
  • 21% liked the subject or topic
  • 16% liked the price

The survey makes for interesting reading. Go here to see the whole survey.

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