Through the first nine months of 2009, 64% of all book buyers said the bad economy had a negative impact on their book purchases, with 68% of women and 57% of men saying the economy has affected their book buying. Nearly one-third of those who said the economy has had an impact on buying said they were cutting down on overall book purchases, and another 21% said they were buying more used books or swapping books with others. The findings were part of a Webinar presented last week by Bowker and the Association of American Publishers and was based on data gathered by Bowker's PubTrack service.
Despite women being the most affected by the economy, women baby boomers (between 43 and 61) were the single largest book-buying group through the nine-month period, followed by women between the ages of 20 and 30. The only male age group to crack the top five buying blocks was baby boomer men, though as a percentage of all book buyers, men's market share rose 1% in the third quarter, while women's share fell by a like amount.
The downturn in the economy has not dramatically affected what genres people are buying or where they are buying their books, although some consumers said they were going to lower-cost outlets. Large chains accounted for about 27% of unit sales through the nine-month period, with e-commerce representing nearly 20% of sales. Bowker v-p Kelly Gallagher said the fourth quarter traditionally has been the strongest period for online retailers, and he was interested to see if the trend holds this year as well. Among genres, fiction, led by general fiction and romance, were the top-selling areas with about a 70% market share each. The largest nonfiction genre was biography/autobiography.