New research presented by Ipsos Book Trends indicates that one out of every 10 book buyers bought a used book in the last nine months. The data was presented at a BEA panel entitled "The Used Book Market: Fact or Fiction?" and was based on a sampling of 16,000 households. One of the few growing areas of the retail book business, used books now account for about $533 million in sales annually—13% of overall book units sold and 5% of total revenue—and could lead to as much as $1.5 billion lost in new sales. The heaviest book buyers, the study found, buy more than one-third of their books used, and a third of all households that bought a new book also bought a used one in the nine-month period.

According to Barrie Rappaport, who presented the data for Ipsos, the rise in used book sales can be attributed to the changing demographic of the general book buyer, who is less affluent and educated than before and less likely to buy books in large quantities. The Internet and ease with which customers can track down titles online have contributed to the spike in sales.

Leisure reading, such as mysteries, romance and science fiction, primarily in the mass market format, are the bestselling used titles. In general, used nonfiction sells better online than in retail stores. Rappaport also said the data suggested that stores in areas with affluent empty nesters, retirees and low-income book buyers might benefit the most by adding used books to their retail mix.

One audience observer thought Ipsos's numbers were too conservative. Boris Wertz, the v-p of marketing and business development for online used bookseller, cited ABEBook's 50% year-on-year growth for the past five years and $100 million in annual sales as evidence of the used book market's inherent strength.