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Random House/Zogby-Poll Finds Most Readers-Prefer Printed Books

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June 5 – 12, 2008 Edition

Random House/Zogby
Poll Finds Most Readers
Prefer Printed Books UTICA, NEW YORK/6/1/2008–Random House and Zogby International released an extensive survey May 30 that explores how and where readers shop, what makes them buy, and their reading and book-buying habits. Despite the growing availability of other formats for reading—such as online or with an e-book reader or PDA– the vast majority of readers still like to read the old fashioned way – 82% said they prefer to curl up with a printed book over using the latest in reading technology, a new Random House/Zogby poll shows. Women (85%) are more likely than men (79%) to say they prefer reading printed books. Reading printed books also has greater appeal among older respondents, although it is by far the preferred method among all age groups.

Just 11% of respondents said they are comfortable reading books in other formats, such as online or with an e-book reader or PDA. Men (13%) are more open than women (8%) to reading books in other formats, as are 13% of those younger than age 30, compared to just 6% of those age 65 and older.

Most book buyers head to bookstore with a purpose – but are often tempted into unplanned book purchases

The survey finds most readers often head to a bookstore knowing exactly what they’re looking for – 43% of respondents said they do this somewhat often, while nearly as many (38%) very often head to a bookstore with a particular book in mind. But just because they’re focused on a certain book, most admit they’re likely to be tempted by other books once at a store – 77% said that when they go into a bookstore for a specific book, they sometimes make additional, unplanned book purchases. For nearly half (48%), the first thing that draws them to a book while browsing in a bookstore is the subject, followed by the author (24%) and the book’s title (11%). When asked about their most recent book purchase, 43% said the book’s subject was the most important factor, followed by the author (29%) and a good recommendation or word of mouth (11%). When asked what makes them want to buy a book, 60% said suggestions from friends and family members, while nearly half (49%) said they are influenced by book reviews.

It is 3 AM and your telephone rings. The next president can’t sleep and is calling you for a book recommendation. Other than the Bible, what book would you suggest?

There’s been a lot of chatter this campaign season about White House activity at 3 a.m., and the survey finds among the top recommendations for the next president would be reading up on world and U.S. history – including the U.S. Constitution.

Among the most frequent responses were books on history, from the Federalist Papers to a more recent look at American history found in David McCullough’s 1776. Many also suggested politically themed books – including those by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Books by politicians such as Ron Paul, Barack Obama, and Al Gore – as well as books by both Bill and Hillary Clinton – which were also frequent mentions. So were suggestions to read anything by Ayn Rand.

Lengthy classics such as War and Peace and the Lord of the Rings also made the list, while others were more inclined to suggest more recent fiction by such authors as Tom Clancy, James Patterson, John Grisham and Stephen King.

Most admit to judging a book by its cover

More than half (52%) admit to judging a book by its cover, with younger respondents more likely to acknowledge a book’s cover influences their opinion – 66% of those younger than 30 said they judge a book by its cover, compared to just 34% of those age 65 and older. More than a third (35%) said they have purchased a book because of a quote from another author. When they find a book they like, the vast majority (89%) said they make a special effort to look for other books by the same author. Women (92%) are more likely than men (86%) to seek out books by authors they already enjoy. Other findings about reading preferences and habits include: Most said they typically read just one book at a time, but a sizable 40% said they usually are reading between two and four books at once. Another 3% said they generally read more than four books at one time. While 19% said they borrow most of the books they read from the library, the vast majority of Americans (78%) said they own most of the books they read. And while 71% are quick to loan books to friends, just 32% said they are in the habit of borrowing books from friends. Respondents were also asked to own up to their bad reading habits – 35% admit to folding over the pages, while 13% confess to sneaking a peek at the ending before finishing a book. Just 6% divulged that they have neglected to return a library book. Two in three respondents (68%) said they typically read a book just once, but 18% said they usually go back for a second read and 10% generally read a book three times or more. Once a book has been read, most respondents said it goes back on their shelf at home (57%), but others are more likely part ways once they finish – 20% usually pass books on to a friend or family member, while 14% give them away and just 3% said they typically sell their books once their done reading them. When respondents were asked what type of book would best represent their life, 20% said it would be humor, while 16% said satire and 13% said their life would be an inspirational book. The survey also shows respondents are more likely to purchase the most books for themselves than for family members or as gifts. On average, 39% of respondents said they purchase between one and five books per year for themselves, while 26% buy between six and 10, 14% between 11 and 15 – 22% buy 16 or more books per year for themselves. When it comes to purchasing books for family members, 51% said they buy one to five books per year, 23% six to 10 and 9% buy 11 to 15 – 18% buy 16 or more books per year for family members. Nearly three in four (73%) respondents said they typically purchase between one and five books per year as gifts, 19% buy six to 10 books as gifts and 4% buy 11 to 15 – just 4% said they buy 16 or more books as gifts per year.

Most head online or to chains for books, but nearly half also shop at independent booksellers

While most purchase books online (77%) or at chain bookstores (76%), nearly half (49%) said they also purchase books at independent bookstores. Others said they purchase books at locations, including the airport (39%), big box retailers (29%), warehouse clubs (27%), supermarkets (25%) and drug stores (16%). The youngest respondents, age 18 to 24, are more likely than older respondents to say they purchase books online and at chain bookstores, but are also more likely to buy books at independent bookstores (54%), compared to 41% of those age 65 and older.

Readers most frequently buy books online or at chains

Respondents said they most often buy books online (43%) or at chain bookstores (32%), while 9% said they purchase books at independent bookstores most frequently.

Nearly one in four are reading more – but slightly more said they are reading less than usual

While 46% of respondents said they have spent about the same amount of time as usual reading in the past year, 23% are spending more time reading – and 30% said they are reading less than usual. Nearly two-thirds of those who are reading less (65%) said they are spending more time online, while 37% are spending more time watching television or movies and 18% are devoting more time to playing computer and video games.

Younger respondents are more likely than older respondents to say they are reading more – and less – than usual. Among those who are spending less time reading, younger respondents are more likely to say they have increased the time they spend online, as well as time watching television or movies and playing computer and video games. The same trend holds true for women, who are more likely than men to say they are spending both more and less time reading books – among those who are reading books less, women are more likely than men to say they are devoting more time to the Internet, television, movies and computer and video games.

John Zogby to discuss survey findings and his new book

Zogby International President and CEO John Zogby put the findings of this survey into context and provided marketing information that booksellers and publishers can use to connect with the changing American consumer during his presentation on “The New American Character” May 30 at BookExpo America in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Zogby, one of the leading voices in the public opinion research industry, is the author of a new book, THE WAY WE’LL BE: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream, which Random House will publish on August 12. In it he identifies a new American consensus arising from the collapse of trust in our leaders and leading institutions. Basing his analysis on thousands of polls conducted by his organization, he sees four main trends that affect how Americans buy and vote: learning to live with limits, embracing diversity, rejecting materialism, and demanding authenticity.

The Zogby Interactive online panel represents a national sample that is slightly more welleducated, earns slightly higher incomes, is more likely to vote in elections, and is slightly less racially diverse than the national adult population as a whole. It is a tool to measure public opinion for such topics as high technology, shopping habits, reading habits, and attitudes toward such things as business, politics, and leisure. For a comprehensive report on his survey, plus a complete methodology statement, please visit: http://www.zogbyanalytics.com/