Marketing to Women: The Future of Reading

April 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Katie Dunham and the LA Library Bookmobile

Katie Dunham and the LA Library Bookmobile

I just returned from the LA Festival of Books and on my plane trip home, as I juggled between my iPad and a paperback, I wondered about the future of reading.  Some think we are in a transition as disruptive as Gutenberg’s printing presses more than 500 years ago.  In fact, some in Silicon Valley think Gutenberg was the first technology geek and call him their patron saint.

The Facts, Please!

Women contributed to 58% of book purchases in 2012, up from 55% in 2011.

According to Pew Research, more than 50% of Americans now have some type of handheld device–either a tablet computer like an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle– for reading e-content. That number is up from 43% of adults who had either of those devices in September 2013, so adoption is growing.

Some 76% of all adults have read a book in the past year, but 82% of women have read a book in the past year.  The typical adult read or listened to five books during the year but the median number of books read by women was 14 books.  Those who read books on an e-reader tend to be more female, while gender is fairly evenly split on iPad book readership.  The amount we read has stayed fairly level the past few years.

But here’s an interesting statistic.  The majority of those reading e-readers still read print books as well.  Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.

Sure, publishing is changing.  Bookstores have become curated collections, not mass marketers, and writers are unchained and able to post their own books to Amazon.  But as I walked through the LA Festival of Books and saw and heard people lovingly hold and share their books and heard authors speak of their inspirations, I realized that story is still alive and well.  And that is the future of reading.

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