Book Trends Blog

December 31, 2012

Book Buying Trends by Bob Spear

It’s the end of the year and time for my wife, Barbara, to sum up our bookstore’s sales. There are some interesting results that I’d like to share with all of you.

First of all, the typical customers are in their forties and older. The younger people are, the less likely they are to buy books. Of course some younger people still do, but overall, the book buying populations tends to be older.

The preponderance of children’s book buyers are grandparents. The parents tend to buy electronics. One interesting factor is how many grandparents want to buy books they read when they were kids. Although a few are still in print, they don’t hold the interest of the younger population.

Another interesting fact: 55% of young adults books are bought by adults who prefer reading that genre. So many adults do not have enough time to read as much as they would like. They find young adult books are easy and quick reads with fast developing plots. They are easier to fit into their schedules.

My last article addressed the trends of ebooks, which are having a definite impact on shopping habits. Internet sales are also taking their toll. The current group of young readers, our potential future group of shoppers, are actually being given tablets or readers by their schools. There are some youngsters who have never read a printed book. This does not bode well for bookstores or major publishers.

One interesting trend has been major publishers who have insisted on charging as much for ebooks as they do for printed paperbacks. To me, that is simply greed, because it costs much less to publish an ebook than a printed version, especially since they are producing a printed version anyway. One device they have invented is the “Agency” model, where they dictate to bookstores a 30% rather than a standard 40% discount rate and no discounting the standard retail price. This has come under fire by the Federal Trad Commission in several court battles.

Yes, the book industry is in turmoil. The only easy prediction to make is that the ways to publish and market books will be changing drastically. It is my guess that the days of independent bookstores are numbered. Oh well, I’ve been trying to talk my wife into retiring for several years now.


  1. Bob,

    Since it seems the best way to go is self-publishing via the e-book format. When do you thing the Kindel-Nook-Apple-all others battle will be settle and we’d have one industry format?


    Comment by Stan Gepadeux — December 31, 2012 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  2. Good question, Stan. Remember VHS versus BetaMax? That took quite a while to settle out.. The major problem is the way Amazon attempted to control the industry by controlling the format? That’s driving the resistance of the industry more than anything else. The entities other than Amazon cannot use its format as it is proprietary. So, if there is a coming together of formats, it will still be at least a two-format environment. None of us like it, especially when all the different smart phones and tablets are focusing on different formats. Some are universal and some are not. To answer your question, I really don’t know because there are too many uncontrollable variables.

    Comment by bobspear — January 1, 2013 @ 3:39 am | Reply

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