Marketing to Women: 10 Things You Need To Know About E-books

March 1, 2011 § 7 Comments

This weekend I spent a lot of time in airport waiting areas and on planes reading the new Cleopatra biography by Stacy Schiff on my iPad.  As I read the book, I started thinking about book consumption and how, even though I love bookstores, I didn’t think a minute about downloading Cleopatra when I needed a good read.  Heck, I didn’t even visit the airport bookshop.  Evidently, I am in good company because some 21% of book shoppers now own a dedicated e-reader or tablet.

Ironic, isn’t it, that I was reading about Cleopatra, the best educated women in her time,  who presided over the world’s most famous library in Alexandria, full of scrolls, the predecessor of books.  But I digress.

Here are some startling facts that really point to the disruption happening in the book world today.

1.  Women are the main purchasers of books.  Cleopatra evidently started a trend.  We contribute to 64% of all book sales.  Even in the detective and thriller genres (think Robert Ludlum and Stephen King), we buy 60% of the titles.  Oh, and as a tribute to Cleopatra’s magnificent new biography, the best selling non-fictions are biographies.  Source:  2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report

2.   Baby Boomers make up the largest group of book purchasers. Some 30% of book sales are by boomers, followed by Matures at 16%.  Only 40% of Americans over the age of 13 purchased a book in 2009.  Source:  2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report

3. Some 51% of e-reader owners are women. And 75% of those e-reader owners have read a book on their e-reader, while only 15.3% have read a magazine.  Oh, and even the world’s best selling book, the Bible, has gone digital with e-Bibles being a top seller on Apple’s iTunes Bookstore and Amazon’s Kindle Store.

4. Approximately 7 million American adults own an e-reader (Kindle, Nook) and another estimated 15 million own iPads. It seems that Amazon is cagey about sales reports since so many more iPads have been sold, but they are quick to say that Amazon sells 115 eBooks to every 100 paperbacks sold; and 3 eBooks for every hardcover book it sells.

5. Digital reader penetration will grow from 20% in January to 36% in the summer of 2011. The trend will continue to grow because only 14% of print book readers say they would never read a book in digital form. Like smartphone adoption, digital readers will continue to be the hot item for the 2011 holidays.  The new iPad will only contribute to the added “crave

6. Traditional bookstores account for less than half of the book market. The majority of books were sold by a variety of retailers including Amazon, Price Clubs, supermarkets and convenience stores.  Amazon has 22.6% of the book market.  One publishing consultant predicts that shelf space devoted to books in physical stores will decline by 50% during the next five years.

Amazon controls about 76% of the U.S. market in digital books and wants more.  Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle content, says “Our vision is [to make] every book ever written, in any language, in print or out of print, all available within 60 seconds. And we want to make the customer experience great.”  Roll over, Google and Gutenberg!

7.  NY Times is now publishing a digital NY Times Best Seller List. With sales of ebooks exploding, the venerable NY Times could not ignore e-book sales any longer.

8. If Kindle prices keep falling, it is predicted that at some point Amazon may offer them free to loyal customers. The price cuts provided by Amazon on Kindles have helped contribute to the popularity of the devices and at some point, Amazon may take the same approach that cell phone providers have used by supplying the reader for free with the purchase of e-books.

9. Backpacks may get lighter as e-textbooks take over the classroom. And sore backs and poor posture may be a thing of the past for kids that often carry backpacks with books weighing half the child’s weight.  According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, e-textbook sales are expected to more than double to $308 million from $138 million this year.  Those textbooks are expected to be accessed through iPads and Kindles.

10.  College libraries are going bookless. According to NPR, students, professors and universities are staging a rebellion against the weighty and wasteful books. Stanford University’s brand new physics and engineering library is “bookless”; relying almost solely on digital material.  “Free and downloadable textbooks are at the heart of the growing “open educational resources” movement that seeks to make education more available and more affordable.” The beauty of digital books is the ability to update content easily and to make the content rich with visuals, videos, interactive and more.

Public libraries are following suit,  beginning to offer e-books to their users. OverDrive, Inc., which supplies electronic books to 13,000 libraries worldwide, reported a 200% increase in e-book circulation in 2010 from 2009.  Library Journal surveyed 1,000 public libraries late last year and found that 71 percent now offer electronic books.

Books are becoming like albums which have moved from vinyl to CD to digital.   The form is changing but a book will still remain important in our world.  I think that Cleopatra would have liked it.



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§ 7 Responses to Marketing to Women: 10 Things You Need To Know About E-books

  • Tracey says:

    I’ve read more books in the 6 months I’ve had my Kobo than in the last 2 years. I finish one book and have downloaded another within minutes. Not surprised women are embracing e-readers in such huge numbers. They are so convenient and don’t collect dust on your book shelf.

  • Mavis Speaks says:

    Thanks for this great information! I’m a ‘stack o’books by the bed’ kinda gal, but I love the flexibility of ebooks. And, as a ghost writer, it’s great to encourge my clients that ebooks are in fact viable and profitable! I’m sharing your link in my next post!

  • The reduced price of eBooks, the convenience of downloading them “now” and the ability to toss the eReader in my purse and go — there’s nothing better! Definitely has included my pleasure reading. I still buy professional books that I want to annotate, but trying to figure out how to make that break as well!

  • still love the feel of books and opening one for the first time…but we need to move with the times and after all, E-books save on paper.

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