What's the last book you bought?

Want to know who’s buying books these days? Well, consumer marketing firm Bowker has just released its 2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report --and it’s pretty interesting. Here’s their summary:

  • More than 40% of Americans over the age of 13 purchased a book in 2009 and the average age of the American book buyer is 42.
  • Women lead men in overall purchases, contributing 64% of sales. Even among detective and thriller genres, women top 60% of the sales. Where do men catch up? Fantasy titles are purchased evenly by men and women.
  • Baby Boomers spend. The boomer generation is the largest purchasing generation, making up 30% of sales. Their elders contribute 16%.
  • More income doesn’t mean more book purchases. 32% of the books purchased in 2009 were from households earning less than $35,000 annually, and 20% of those sales were for children’s books.
  • Americans like people. The biggest selling nonfiction genre is biography.

So, Shelf Lifers, where do you fit in all this? How many books do you buy a year on average? What’s the last book you bought?


Comments (87 total) Add your comment
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  • Brandi

    I get about 80% of my reading through the library. But I do buy books also. I buy about 15 books a year, I’d guess.I buy the new Janet Evanovich every year. I just bought all the Night Huntress books from Jeanine Frost. I also bought The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. Along with 3 or 4 cook books. All within the last 3 months. I’m a book work. Love to read.

    • Cato

      I also get many of my books from the library, especially hardcovers, as they are so expensive. I just recently bought the paperback version of Jonathan Lethem’s “Chronic City.” I’ve just barely gotten into it, so I can’t give a review yet.

  • Chris

    Call of the Wild/White Fang

    • Ziggy

      I just bought that duo this summer and LOVED them. I had never read Jack London (for shame, I know) and was knocked out by his style. I particularly loved the way he got inside a dog’s psyche. Amazing stuff.

  • Heather

    The biggest chunk of my spending money is spent on books – and not the digital kind, but real hold-in-your-hands books. I’d say I buy at least 100 books in a year, mainly paperbacks. The last purchase was “The Darkest Hour” by Maya Banks.

    • Kristine

      I spend most of my money on books as well so I’m buying at least 100 books a year as well. I don’t know if I could ever go digital. I love the smell of books and bookstores. The last book I picked up was “Street Gang” by Michael Davis. It’s the complete history of Sesame Street :)

      • Brandi

        I am the same way. I don’t do digital either. I love the book store, and the library. Something about thousands of books on shelves. Makes me happy.

    • jenny

      I try not to think about how many books I buy a year. Adding in what I pick up at garage sales and used books stores – its easily 200 to 300. I tend to buy 3 or 4 at a time because I can’t seem to stop.

  • Matt

    I use to spend $1,000+ a year on books, so I got a Nook and I spend about $400. I am like the exception though to all the data (I’m 25 and a male).

    I’m currently reading “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen and loving it!

  • Justin C.

    I’d say a book a year. My last fiction was “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” (which is almost a decade old). My last nonfiction was “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives”.

    • Justin C.

      The last book I bought but failed to read: “Atlas Shrugged”. Felt like a summer homework assignment.

      • Cato

        I read every word of “Atlas Shrugged” a few years ago. I have OCD when it comes to books. I can’t bring myself to skim. I wish I could have skimmed this one. It’s very self-indulgent. An editor could have chopped the text in half — at least — without losing anything important.

  • Kristina

    I usually go for fiction but I have bought some non-fiction books, mostly biographies. I don’t really go for a specific genre for fiction though. I mostly buy what I want to read or buy a book that got a decent grade in your EW reviews. And I also buy real books and not E-books.

  • Tony

    The Passage. Don’t get it. Falls apart half-way thru.

    • RustyT

      I disagree. I thought *The Passage* was really visionary and well-plotted all the way through. It’s one of the most exciting novels I’ve read this year.

    • Ripley

      Loved ‘The Passage’, one of the best books of the last 10 years. I couldn’t put it down.

  • Suzanne

    The Last book I bought was “Collusion” by Stewart Neville. It is the follow up to his excellent first novel, “The Ghosts of Belfast.” I buy quite a lot of books. I keep the ones I really like and might read again, and then pass on the rest.

  • Hanna

    I work in a bookstore and so I buy TONS of books…but I think the last one I bought was Bright Star, the love letters between Fanny Brown and John Keats.

    I don’t see why a person would spend up to $150 on a device to buy books for when you could just buy the book. You’d be saving yourself A LOT of money.

  • Natalie

    I have no idea how many books I buy per year, probably at least 30. The last book I bought was Faithful by Janet S. Fox.

  • Kate

    I’m half the age of the average book buyer, but I LOVE buying books.

    Last book I bought: Freedom, Jonathan Franzen. Bought it the day it hit shelves (which I probably haven’t done since the last Harry Potter).

  • RichLeC

    I buy probably between 20 and 30 books a year (mainly fiction and textbooks) and take out about three times as many from the library. These include gift books for my family. The last book I bought was “The Cardboard Universe: A Guide to the World of Phoebus K. Dank,” a novel-spoof of Philip K. Dick. For fiction, I buy books that are not available at the local library or easily obtainable through interlibrary loan. The library is a wonderful resource — just saying.

    • Alberto

      1. 7 keys and sadly none of them are the key to someone’s heart2. Just 1 dimaon name because I am that concise and efficient like a moped. A really, really cool moped.3. 6 or 7 (all of which have been in the past 3 months) and I would say either Searching for God Knows What or Irresistible Revolution4. I was wait, there wasn’t a fourth question was there?

  • Katie

    Since I bought my Kindle I’ve bought a lot more books. The lastest, “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green.

  • cass

    i love books, and probably average 30-35 per year in purchases. I have favorite authors that I but as soon as they put anything new out–Jonathan Kellerman, Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, Marcia Muller. Am eagerly awaiting Jean M Auel’s final installment of her “Clan of the Cave Bear” series, which will be out March of next year. I love libraries and bookstores, and no matter how advanced technology gets, nothing will ever replace the sensory stimulation I get from those places.

    • Liz

      Cass you just made me a very happy person. I had no idea Auel was writing another book. I can still remember the first time I read Clan of the Cave Bear.

  • Franny Featherbottom

    I just bought 12 books from betterworldbooks.com… they were having an awesome Labor Day sale… I honestly can’t remember what all of them are at the moment, but I do know they are all on my “Books to Read” list, which is now 3 pages (front & back) long… I can’t do the digital device thing b/c I like to hold my books, and turn the pages myself, but I do find the Nook & Kindle intriguing…

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