images-1.jpegA new survey by BML and Bowker looks at this data. According to them 57% of British consumer bought a book last year, but only 50% of Americans did. Romance and mystery took up 57% of the US fiction market as opposed to 31% in Britain and men accounted for 29% of the US fiction market and 40% of it in Britain. (Isn’t that rather male-centric in the reporting? Why not say 71% of the buyers in the US were women and 60% of the buyers in Britain were female?)

In a, to me, scary statistic it seems that adults over the age of 42 accounted, in both countries, for 66% of all book purchases. More info here.


  1. But if they’d quoted the other way, would that not have been female-centric? And why does it matter what way the statistics are quoted – I’m actually surprised at the high rate of male readership of fiction in the UK. I thought it would have been a lot less.

  2. I think this study, coupled with some of the statements of people who believe that ebooks must be “enhanced” suggests that simple reading is a pastime that is increasingly deprecated in our consumer culture.

    Of course it is a shame that the published piece doesn’t actually discuss what, if any, genres are more popular in Britain nor does it seem to document the actual reading of books. Its unfortunate but true that many books that are purchased every year are never read; likewise many readers read many more books every year than they purchase. So ultimately, this article leaves a lot of questions about the future of reading unanswered.


  3. Indeed, book reading *may* correlate to book purchasing but not in any simple/direct fashion. Not in the US with its broad, varied, and strong tradition of local library systems.
    So any survey that aspired to any true insight into culture would have to slice-n-dice the data by region and normalize for quality of library system and the activity at the libraries.

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