I mentioned in my entry about social media and discovery that the RWA had done a survey of romance readers and posted a PDF of the results online for members. I asked if I could share some of the data, and RWA granted permission. Thank you!
The following data is from RWA and Bowker's PubTrack Consumer, and all of the information is used with permission. I'm barely scratching the surface of the report, but I wanted to share the parts that really caught my attention.
I must start by saying that I have a horrible time with numbers. I remember phone numbers by the song and position on a touch pad, not the actual numbers. Navigating New York City means landmarks or writing numbers on my hand so I can keep looking at them because I can't hold numbers in my head easily at all. So looking at data for me means STARING at it and then translating it into words (oh, words, sexy sexy words) like “a third” or “half” or “a whole whopping crapton.”
So if you're an RWA member, please do look at the data yourself because it's really amazing. And if you're not an RWA member, I apologize that the mental lens through which I am viewing the data is faulty. If I'm inconsistent or don't make any sense here, please ask me to clarify. Likely I'm trying to hold onto a number while it dissolves in my brain.
First: survey data! This sample was based on a sampling of 1371 readers, and another fielding will be done in the spring, with MORE DATA (NOMNOMNOM) in the summer of 2012. 78% of those sampled reported themselves as “frequent” or “avid” readers (as opposed to “occasional”) and were split nearly evenly among age groups from “under 30″ all the way to “65+”. In other words, no one age group was better represented than another, and these are mostly readers who are avidly/frequently reading romance.
On to the results that I found so fascinating:
For every four print books purchased, there is one ebook being purchased in the romance genre. Also, 31% of romance readers in the survey reported that they currently read ebooks (which means 69% said they weren't) (See how I did math there?) (No, I didn't; I read a pie chart). This data made me wonder where the ultimate balance between print and E will be for romance readers.
When survey respondents were asked about where they learned about new romance authors, the top answers were:
- Amazon.com Recommendations
- Bookstore shelf
- Bestseller Lists
- Other, online sources
The top three offline factors that influenced purchase decisions were enjoying the author's previous books, whether the book was part of a series that person was already reading, and the description of the book on the back cover or flap.
But the top three online factors that influenced purchasing decisions: Online bookseller websites (i.e. Amazon.com), reading or seeing mention of a book online, and seeing a book on a bestseller list. Author websites and author enewsletters were 4th and 5th most influential according to the survey results.
I thought initially that “reading or seeing mention of a book online” would include online forums, blogs, and social media – but those were separate line items. While 60% of respondents said online bookstores like Amazon.com may have had some influence or were major influences in purchasing a book, “reviews in blogs and online forums” accounted for only 34% of those who said that source “may have had some influence” or was a “major influence.”
This question and the data results caught my attention because while “reading about it/seeing it online” (“it” being a book) was #2, “romance-oriented websites with reviews” was 7th, and “reviews in blogs/online forums” was 8th. I thought those three could be the same thing, depending on how the question was asked, and I couldn't tell the difference between a “romance-oriented website with reviews” and “reading about a book/seeing a book online.”
As for social media, as the RWR reported, only 30% of respondents said they would follow an author on Facebook, but in the survey results, over 64% named Facebook as the site they most visited.
Thank you again for RWA for giving permission to share this portion of the data (the full report is 32 pages long, and contains pie charts, graphs, and a lot of numbers, all of which were fascinating). If you're an RWA member, I hope you'll download and look at the report. I am most curious about the summer 2012 reporting, and am looking forward to seeing if any of the percentages move or change substantially. Given the proximity of the fieldings, I'm presuming not a lot of movement, but I am still so curious about the different surveys that discover how readers discover books.