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Acclaimed annual study from Bowker and PW reveals changing book-buying demographics and behavior as industry continues shift to digital

New Providence, NJ - August 14, 2012 - Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1989, spent the most money on books in 2011, taking over long-held book-buying leadership from Baby Boomers. That’s according to the 2012 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 Review, an information staple prepared by Bowker® Market Research and industry trade magazine Publishers Weekly, notes that GenY’s 2011 book expenditures rose to 30 percent -- up from 24 percent in 2010 – passing Boomers, 25 percent share. And with 43 percent of GenY’s purchases going to online channels, they are adding momentum to the industry shift to digital.

“The book industry is operating in a new and dynamic landscape that puts much more power in the hands of consumers,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice-president of Bowker Market Research. “Consumers can now very easily purchase virtually any book they want, whenever they want it and get it at a competitive price. It’s more essential than ever before to understand who is buying and what their expectations and habits are.”

The Annual Review explores demographic changes in the context of overall market trends culled from the Bowker Market Research consumer panel of almost 70,000 Americans who bought books of any format and from any source in 2011. It reveals another pivotal year in the evolution of the book industry, marked by such significant events as:

  • The collapse of Borders Group, Inc., which accelerated movement of book sales to online retailers and away from bookstore chains. By the fourth quarter of 2011, online retailers’ share of unit purchases had risen to 39 percent, up from 31 percent at the close of 2010. Conversely, chains’ share fell to 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 from 36 percent in the final period of 2010.
  • Continued growth of e-book consumption, which rose from 4 percent of unit sales in 2010 to 14 percent in 2011. Among major subgenres, e-books had the most impact in the Mystery/Detective category, accounting for 17 percent of spending, followed by Romance and Science Fiction; where the format accounted for 15 percent of dollars spent.
  • The slow economic recovery, which continued to nudge more book spending into affluent households in 2011. Fifty-seven percent of book spending in 2011 came from households earning more than $50,000 annually, up from 54 percent in 2010.
  • A slight dip in women’s lead in book buying. Though still a more powerful spending group than men, women’s share of unit purchases declined to 62 percent from 65 percent in 2010 and their share of spending dropped to 55 percent from 58 percent in 2010.

“There has never been a more dynamic time in the publishing industry than the one we are in now,” said Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly Co-Editorial Director and editor of the Annual Review. “The information in the annual review is just what is needed to help all industry members adjust to the new publishing reality.”

The 2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review is available now by visiting Through August, the report can be purchased for $799 for a single-use PDF or print copy. After August the price rises to $999. Members of the news media can purchase at a 30 percent 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.

Bowker Market Research is a service of Bowker, an affiliate of global information company ProQuest.

About Bowker® (
Bowker is the world's leading provider of bibliographic information and management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. Creators of products and services that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience, the company also generates research and resources for publishers, helping them understand and meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker, a ProQuest affiliate, is the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories. The company is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey, with additional operations in England and Australia.

About Publishers Weekly (
Publishers Weekly is the international news magazine of the book publishing industry. Founded in 1872 and published continuously since then, the weekly trade magazine publishes six newsletters, including PW Daily and PW Tip Sheet; five blogs, including the new ListenUp; a robust Web site; and more than 260,000 Twitter followers. The magazine has also launched a mobile edition, digital editions and an app. Publishers Weekly reviews more than 8,000 books each year, in addition to featuring author interviews and news about bookselling, marketing, merchandising and the publishing trade, along with regular columns on rights, people in publishing and bestsellers.

14 August 2012

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