Friday, November 06, 2015

Writing: Who Reads What...And Does It Matter?

The Barna Group has recently released the results of a survey about reading, and the findings are interesting both to writers and readers. You can read the entire survey here, but a few of the high points include these:

Roughly two-thirds of the general population read five books per year. It varies a great deal according to the age of those queried, and one quarter of the Generation X respondents didn't read any books at all. Where do you fit into this?

In general, readers prefer fiction. However, among practicing Christians, there was a definite preference for non-fiction. This is attributed to the reason many of these people gave for their reading—“to grow and develop spiritually.” I've encountered this mindset a good bit when talking with other Christians. It's laudable, but what does that say to those of us who write Christian fiction (or, to use the newer term, inspirational fiction)?

About one-third of adults buy their books via brick-and-mortar outlets, while ten percent primarily order their books online. It’s interesting that about fifteen percent of adults across all age ranges usually borrow books rather than buying them. If the book is bought by a library, the author gets a royalty. If it's borrowed from a friend, though, the author gets nothing. And I've been told that the average book is read by five people, so there's a good bit of borrowing and loaning going on.

The summary of the study that I read didn’t give a definitive answer to one big question—are e-books replacing print books in popularity?  As best I can tell, though,  it appears that the printed word is still favored by a significant number of respondents.


All that’s very interesting, but it leaves a big question unanswered for writers. Do the results of this survey affect what you write and how it's published? And readers, do your habits match what Barna found in the survey? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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8 comments:

Kris M said...

I'm a reader and I read a lot more than average! I think I read between 10 and 15 books a month (and some months even more than that!). Some come from the library, some I get on sale at either a store or online, some I get free to review and finally some I buy at yard sales or thrift stores. I simply read too quickly and therefore too many to buy them at regular prices. But, I do lead a bookclub at my church and purchase the books for the members so that means I am buying new about 20 books a month (always online since they then get shipped to me). And I am so appreciative of the many authors who write inspirational fiction!

Richard Mabry said...

Kris, you're at the top end of the bell curve from which Barna took the "average," and it's appreciated. Thanks so much for what you do to support writers, especially writers of inspirational fiction--and thanks for leaving a comment. Blessings.

Patricia Bradley said...

I read an average of 30 books a year, and that's just a guess. It depends on whether I have a deadline or not.

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, you're the embodiment of the advice that a writer must read. I haven't counted, but I think I'm a bit behind you.

Susan Johnson said...

I read a lot of Christian fiction. I think it is a very important market. My reading goal this year is 60 books. I'm not sure if I will make it, but I will be close.

Richard Mabry said...

Susan, obviously you're above Barna's norm...and, speaking for authors everywhere...I appreciate it. Thanks for reading, and for your comment.

Flybabymom said...

I generally read 50 - 70 books per year, probably half & half fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps 25 - 30 percent of those are e-books, most of which I download free. At least 50 percent are books I borrow from the library. Maybe 1 or 2 are borrowed from friends. The rest I buy. And...I'm a beginning writer. I love your books, Dr. Mabry! My parents were both physicians and I loved being on the periphery of medicine. :) I enjoy your blog, too.

Richard Mabry said...

Bless you, and may your tribe increase--obviously there were a lot of non-readers in the Barna survey if their average came out like it did, yet you read so many books per year. And thanks for your kind words about my writing. Best wishes on your own. And I appreciate the comment.