Sisters in Crime today released a 47-page report that it commissioned on the book selection habits of the mystery book buyer. The report can be found online at www.sistersincrime.org.
The study, titled "The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age," is the first of its kind to provide an overview of the mystery/crime fiction book-buying landscape, with information on who buys mystery books, where they buy them, what they buy and why they make their mystery book purchases.
The research is based on publishing industry data gathered and interpreted by the PubTrack book sales analysis division of Bowker -- a unit that specializes in providing business intelligence to publishers, retailers and authors -- with input from a Sisters in Crime survey team.
Among the findings of the study:
The number one factor that determined how mystery readers became aware of books was found to be knowing/liking an author – making author “branding” even more important than conventional wisdom suggests.
The next four factors, in order of influence were: that the book was part of a series, an in-store display/on shelf/spinning rack, a book-buying club such as the Book of the Month Club or the Mystery Guild and the recommendation of a friend or relative.
Just as authors have always thought, a book’s cover was found to play a significant role in the decision to purchase a mystery.
In a list of 27 “media” categories influencing an individual to buy a book, the cover ranked number two in terms of having both a “high influence” and “some influence” on a purchase decision. A total of 57 percent of respondents said the cover had “some influence” on their decision, while 18 percent of respondents said the cover had a “high influence.”
Overall, 68 percent of mysteries are purchased by women; more than half of mystery buyers are more than 45 years of age. Buyers 18 to 44 years of age purchase 31 percent of the mysteries sold.
The majority of mysteries – 35 percent – are purchased by individuals who live in the South, 26 percent are purchased by people in the West, 20 percent by those in the Midwest and 19 percent by individuals in the Northeast.
Mysteries are obtained mostly through purchases from brick-and-mortar stores, followed by library borrowing and online purchasing. A total of 39 percent are obtained through in-store purchases, 19 percent are borrowed from libraries and 17 percent are purchased online. Online purchases in the mystery genre top those for other types of fiction.
The full survey provides a detailed look at these and other findings, including demographics, purchasing, factors that influence mystery buying, mystery reading behavior, ebooks and more.
Next week, Sisters in Crime will host an online question-and-answer session on the survey via the members-only SinC listserv. The discussion will feature representatives from the Bowker research team and the SinC survey team. Watch for an email invitation to participate in this interactive event.