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2010 was a “Perfect Storm” of Challenges to the U.S. Book Market, says Industry’s Most Comprehensive Report

Bowker and PW team again to provide insight into book buying demographics and behavior

New Providence, N.J. – July 6, 2011 - A weakened economy, declining numbers of book buyers, fewer physical bookstores and the acceleration of e-books combined to make 2010 one of the most challenging ever for the U.S. book industry. The challenges and the bright spots in this dynamic industry are presented and explored in the 2010-11 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review, the publishing industry’s only complete consumer-based report integrating channel, motivation and category analysis of U.S. book buyers. The report, which has become an information staple, is prepared by Bowker’s PubTrack™Consumer and industry trade magazine Publishers Weekly.

“The year 2010 saw a perfect storm of challenges to the U.S. book market, as a number of inter-related trends continued to impact the market,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services for Bowker. “Now more than ever, this report’s data about the American book consumer can help publishers, retailers and others navigate these challenging times by arming them with information.”

The 2010-11 Annual Review identifies how the economy and shifting industry dynamics combined to significantly alter the way consumers bought books in 2010. Among the most profound impacts: For the first time ever, online retailers accounted for more units purchased and spending on books than the national bookstore chains, making e-commerce the single largest book-buying channel.

“When all bookstores are combined, bookstores still comprised the largest source of book purchases, but that is sure to change in 2011 as the number of bricks-and-mortar stores declines and spending through such outlets as Amazon and BN.com increases,” said Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly editor and contributor to the Annual Review. “It is quite possible that we’ll see a decline in the number of large bookselling enterprises by the end of 2011, a development that will hasten the shift to more online book buying.”

The report also explores how books are competing with other forms of entertainment for the consumer dollar. While steady declines were seen in book buying in the first three quarters of 2010, purchases bounced back in the fourth quarter, with 51% of book buyers saying the economy had no impact on their book buying – the highest percentage in two years. Among book buyers, reading books continues to place in the top three forms of media entertainment (along with communicating online through email or IM and surfing the web). However, reading as a pastime continues to decline: the percentage of book buyers who reported reading a book at least once a week fell to 57%, down from 59% in 2009.

Despite the industry’s dizzying pace of change, the report identifies a variety of consistencies in the demographics of book buyers: women dominate purchasing across all genres, Baby Boomers are the top buying generation and fiction continues to form the backbone of the industry sales.

2010-11 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review includes more than 100 pages of data and analysis including a rich summary of insights followed by demographic data on America’s book buyers, what types of books they buy and where they buy them, along with insight into what motivates their purchases. The changing nature of format and the impact of e-books are explored by defining the demographics of the e-book buyer. The report also includes a detailed look at book production statistics.

Information was gathered through PubTrack™ Consumer’s nationally representative annual panel of nearly 40,000 U.S. book-buying men, women, and teens. The 2010 panel was built by monthly recruiting of book buyers who completed surveys about their book purchasing behavior during the previous month.

The report is available now by visiting www.bookconsumer.com. Pricing starts at $999 for a single-use PDF or print copy. Members of the news media can purchase at a 30% discount. Print copies are being manufactured on demand by Ingram Content Group’s Lightning Source, the global leader in print on demand book manufacturing and distribution.

About Bowker (www.bowker.com)
R.R, Bowker LLC is the world's leading provider of bibliographic information management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. The company is focused on developing various tools and products that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience, as well as providing services to publishers that help them better understand and meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker is a member of the ProQuest® family of companies and is headquartered in New Providence, NJ, USA, with additional operations in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Contact Information

News Media
Beth Dempsey
for Bowker
Phone: 248-349-7810

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