Periodic: a monthly blog feature
While this blog tends to comment on stories of interest from BPL’s magazine collection, we thought an item from one of our staff journals might be of interest to patrons.
Publisher’s Weekly keeps our staff informed about industry trends and issues, including book reviews and recommendations. An article by Tim Coates in its June 14th online newsletter presents an interesting report on our reading habits that Coates believes should inform the publishing industry’s future. With our summer reading program entering its third year, we believe Coates’ investigation is both timely and welcome.
“The reading industry might be twice as big
as the book publishing industry realizes.”
“‘It’s not hard to figure out what books people are buying—just look at the weekly bestseller lists…. But focusing on sales ignores a key part of the reading ecosystem’, says veteran bookseller and former Waterstones managing director Tim Coates— ‘most prominently, libraries’. So in April, Coates took it upon himself to try to broaden the conversation around how we read, commissioning a survey on how and where readers are getting their books.
“‘I’ve long felt that for all the data we have about book sales, there’s another key piece of information to the jigsaw that we really don’t have,’ Coates told PW in a recent interview. ‘I wanted to find out how libraries fit in the world of people who want to get hold of something to read.’
“The good news from the survey—people are reading. Nearly 81% of respondents said they’d ‘read or made use of’ a book in the last 12 months, with 65% of those respondents saying they read for pleasure.
“‘This is a really encouraging number,’ Coates says, noting that it’s slightly higher than other recent surveys, including a recent Pew survey (which found 74% had read a book in the last year). It also pushes back against a narrative that emerged from U.S. Bureau of Labor’s 2018 American Time Use Survey, which found the amount of time Americans spent on leisure reading was at an all-time low—and was trending downward.
“Perhaps the most tantalizing number from the survey, however, is that nearly half of the survey’s respondents—some 46%—said they’d paid zero for their last book.
“The idea of free reading sets off alarm bells for many publishers and authors groups—but Coates stresses that figure doesn’t imply rampant piracy, or displaced sales—rather, he suggests, it’s reflective of how the reading ecosystem works. ‘There are libraries, and gifting, and lots of ways for people to read books without having to buy them’, Coates explained, touching on one of main motivations behind the survey: that publishers and authors would benefit from a fuller picture of how people are reading, not just what they are buying.'”
If you’re interested in reading the complete article, read it here.
Join our summer reading programs (adult, teen and children) by following this link or stop by the Summer Reading Desk!