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How Far Am I From Everyone Else: Book Spending Habit

Musing Mondays2

This week’s musing reports readers’ spending on books, comparing data between 2nd quarter of 2009 and 2010:

  • Declines have occurred in the price paid per book, the number of books purchased per buyer, and in the overall dollars spent per buyer.
  • Digital books took a larger slice of overall book sales than a year ago at this same time.
  • Hardcovers’ share of the market fell to 33.3%, down from 35% in the comparable period in 2009.
  • Amazon.com’s share of book sales, based on dollars spent, increased to 18% from 16% at the same time last year.
  • eCommerce (not Amazon) also increased (from 8% to 10%).
  • Lower prices of e-books didn’t result in more copies sold. Books per buyer dipped from 2.7 in the second quarter of 2009 to 2.4 in the second quarter of 2010.
  • Nonfiction sales are going down–except for religion books, which are holding steady.

What are your responses to this report? Does it match with what you –as a reader– have observed? With your own buying habits? When was the last time you bought a book? What did you buy and why?

As bleak as the statistics might seem, the same readers who uphold the book market have spent their money in different forms of books. The industry should be glad that book lovers aren’t as finical as gadget junkies. Readers hardly grow out of their reading habit. I’m not surprised that prices paid per book have declined because of the huge amount of discount booksellers offer to boost sales. In the same sentiment, readers respond to sluggish economy by budgeting their money. It makes perfect sense that sales of hardcovers take the hardest hit because they are expensive. I rarely buy hardcovers, unless I’m reassured it’s a book to call home about and that it’s by a favorite author. I feel a misgiving toward the declined number of books purchased per buyer. Again, this reflects on the slow economy and not diminishing interest because readers might turn to the library. I have purchased about the same amount of books.

Although I have finally drunk the cool-aid and got a Kindle, I’m not ready to convert all my readings to digital format. A cold electronic gadget in my hand is not the same as my lifelong affair with the turning pages. For the market at large, ebooks are convenient for business and leisure travelers. That Amazon has marketed some of the e-books at $4.99 further drives the sales. My affair with “books that are actually books” also plays a role in where I acquire them. The fun of browsing at the bookstores is undeniable. That is the reason why I purchase over 90% of my books at the stores. The one trend that goes along with my book appetite is decreasing sales in nonfiction. Non-fiction is just not as interesting as fiction. They read like textbooks that I don’t want to be reminded of—except literary criticism, history, and travel. Religion simply has zero presence in my collection.

16 Responses

  1. I agree with you basic idea … we readers will always be readers in one form or another and whatever the future of books holds, I know I will be there buying it.

  2. I definitely bought less books this year than last but that has more to do with my son going away to college in less than two years and my wanting to use more of my disposable income to put away for that than anything else!

  3. I don’t read very much non-fiction either. I’m babysitting my son’s Kindle right now and downloaded a bunch of free books. I haven’t had the chance to use it yet because I’m still reading review books, but he loves it and I’m sure the younger generation will embrace the e-book much easier then the rest of us. I hardly ever buy hardback because of the price and usually pick up my books at the library sale!

    • Library sales are great way to save money. I just love browsing through the selection. It gives me great satisfaction when I find unexpected treasures at these sales.

  4. I think I have spent more money this period on books than last year.

    Anyway, hello… I am on a bookblog tour and came across your blog. I promote African Literature on my blog. I would be following yo so we can discuss books.

    Finally, I don’t have a kindle or any e-reader for that matter hence I restrict myself to the paperbacks. Hardcovers are difficult to handle…

    • I have spent about the same amount of money because I consistently stock up on books. Everything published before 1923 are available for free on ebooks. So I have saved in the classic department.

  5. I found my book buying habits have changed in the past year. I have a Kindle and find I am buying more books with it, these are books I would have purchased in paperback before. Otherwise, I am buying more used and out of print books from websites such as ABEbooks. These are books I want to add to my library, versus casual reading books on my Kindle. I don’t have access to good used book stores so the internet is great for me but I do miss browsing the stacks. Long story short I am buying more books beween the Kindle and used and out of print books.

    • AbeBooks is one of the greatest sites for rare and foreign books. I have also discovered Book Depository from the UK. I have also bought books that I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy on Kindle because they are cheaper and I don’t have to worry about storing them at home.

  6. I’m a kindle owner, but I still buy books. I recently had a hankering to read The Man in the High Castle and wound up getting it on kindle because the only copy I could find in a nearby bookstore was new and not discounted, but generally if it’s a book I’m proud to own, I want to display it.

    You do know that are probably a gazillion writers out there who’d love send you freebies if you offered a place to send them to? I know I would. I’d be thrilled to send you a coupon for a free kindle or even a complimentary copy. I’m not a stalker — just a writer as desperate for intelligent readers as you are for good books.

  7. I’m rediscovering the pleasures of the library. My experience is that (for me) screen reading is not the same as reading an actual document.

  8. I have probably bought more books this year than any other year, and not a single one has been an ebook. I have read ebooks, but only the free ones.

    I have also started going to the library which I really hope that i can into the habit of.

    People who read will read – doesn’t matter what format its in

  9. I have a kindle, but don’t use it much…mostly free classics. If I’m going to buy a book, I want to own it.

    I’ve cut down a bit on book purchases, trying to use the library or paperbackswap when possible, and trying to read the books already on my shelves. I just got tired of having so many books to get rid of. That being said, if I really like a book I’ll often purchase a better copy for my shelves, keeping the cheap one to loan out.

    My nonfiction purchases are about the same, and I rarely buy hardcovers anyhow. I had to read the 2.4 books per buyer in the 2nd quarter stat a couple of times…not surprisingly, I buy many more than that.

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