Who is reading? Who isn’t?

So, buckle your seatbelts, kids, this post has a chart. But, I, hopefully, will be making that chart, and set of statistics easily understandable. Maybe even useful for writers.

Consider these scenarios:

You might think you’re an average reader. You’re not a rabid book blogger, but you read two, maybe three books a month.

You’re a writer, getting ready for your book launch. You write middle grade novels, so you look at your own family, and imagine them as your target market.

Are either of these accurate? Let’s examine the data and find out!

…hang in there, people. I promise a cute photo of my cat at the end.

Reading snapshot

(Chart from Pew Research, link)

The scary thing. This data is for people who have read AT LEAST ONE book. As in, about 25% of people in the random survey Pew did said they haven’t read a SINGLE book in a year.

On average, the typical American read or listened to 5 books in 2014. The survey did note that “avid readers” who read over 12 books a year were the exception to the rule, and therefore the 5 comes from the median, not the mean, to avoid error. (Math class flashbacks, anyone?)

I’m going to do one take away from each section, and then sum it all up with an overall summary. Remember, keep reading for a cute cat.

1. Gender: Women are reading more than men, in all forms of book distribution. So, if you’re a writer who doesn’t believe in having real, multi-faceted females in your fiction, I challenge you to reconsider, unless you want to cut yourself off from the gender that reads more.

2. Race/ethnicity. We NEED diverse books. It’s that simple. If you try and tell me a race/ethnicity “doesn’t read” I’m going to hit you in the ace with a Statistics textbook

3. Education Level:  College grads are the most likely, by far, to have read an ebook or listened to an audiobook. If you’re targeting that market, those are things to keep in mind.

4.Household income: There is a decent correlation between a greater household income, and the percentage of people who have read an ebook this year. If your book is launching as an ebook first, you may need to tailor your marketing to appeal to that income bracket.

5. Community type: Tied in with the above, we see suburbanites being the most likely to have read an ebook, with urban and rural pretty much tied for having read a print book.

So, what does all this tell us? First of all, the push towards diversity in literature is greatly needed, and long overdue. Second, is that “Five books a year” phrase resonating in your head yet? Often times, I think writers tend to talk books with other writers, and forget the average American doesn’t read as voraciously as they do.  This is why word of mouth is so important for books. You have to get your book in front of those people, who probably don’t follow book blogs, or keep track of the twitter-verse.

And as promised, here’s my cat


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