Even as brick-and-mortar stores continue to be the largest sales channel for mystery books the percentage of mysteries sold as e-books rose from 1.7% in 2009 to 7% in the second quarter of 2010. Those were some of the findings of a research study on the mystery/crime fiction book-buying market sponsored by Sister In Crime and conducted by Bowker’s PubTrack service. According to the study, 39% of mysteries were bought in stores in 2009, while library borrowing accounted for 17% of the way readers obtained books. Online retailers represented 17% of unit purchases. And as e-book sales increases between the first quarter of 2010 to the second, the percentage of hardcovers fell.

Women bought the most mysteries in 2009, accounting for 68% of purchases and 66% of mystery buyers were over 45 years old. Buyers 18 to 44 bought 31% of mysteries. Mysteries are bought the most by readers in the suburbs, 48%, with readers in rural areas accounting for 27% of purchases and urban buyers 25%.

Knowing or liking an author was the top reason cited by readers for buying a particular mystery, a finding Sisters In Crime says makes author branding even more important.