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September 13, 2006  |  Book numbers  |  4987 hit(s)

Dan Poynter has assembled a big ol' list of statistics about books, publishers, bookstores, and readers. Here are some random stats I found interesting. It was kind of hard to stop, and this is just a small fraction of what Poynter has.

On average it takes 475 hours to write a fiction title and 725 hours to write a nonfiction title.

It takes an average of 531 hours to produce a book--422 hours for fiction, 550 hours for nonfiction.

An average of 10 to 15 hours are spent designing a book cover.

On average, 61 hours are spent in the editing process.

1999: 1.5+ million titles in print (currently available in the U.S.) Since 1776, 22 million titles have been published.

2004: 2.8 million books in print.

What genres/categories are people buying?
55% Popular fiction
10% Religious nonfiction
9% Cooking/Crafts[1]

Most initial print runs are 5,000 copies.

A larger publisher must sell 10,000 books to break even.

A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.

A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.

2002: Books sales totaled roughly $26.9 billion.

One-third of the books sold worldwide are sold in the US.

In 2001, consumers purchased 1.6 billion books.

2002: People spent $530 million on used books, 5% of the trade book market. The Internet makes hard-to-find titles easier to locate. There are 7,200 used bookstores, up 10% in 10 years. Powell's in Portland, OR, does 40% of its business online; 55-65% of that volume is in used books.

Used books were purchased by one out of ten book buyers in the previous nine months in 2002.
Used books account for $533 million in annual sales; 13% of the units sold and 5% of the total revenue.
The heaviest book buyers buy more than one-third of their books used.
The largest-selling used books are: Mysteries, romance and science fiction.
Used nonfiction sell best online.

15,000 stores in the U.S. that carry books.
8,000 are "bookstores".
3,000 might be profiled for any particular book. (Business books sell better downtown; parenting books can be found in the suburbs).

Amazon.com sells 5% of all books for $3 billion. Amazon.com is ranked among the top 50 brands in the world.

2002: Books were by far the best Internet seller. 43% of online shoppers purchased at least one book.

On the average, a book store browser spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.

Libraries lose 20% of their books each year. Some books get past the security devices and others are just not returned.

81% of the population feels they have a book inside them.
27% would write fiction.
28% would write on personal development
27% would write history, biography, etc.
20% would do a picture book, cookbook, etc.
6 million have written a manuscript.
6 million manuscripts are making the rounds.
Out of every 10,000 children's books, 3 get published.

70% of the books published do not earn out their advance.

Who is Reading Books (and who is not)
  • One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.[2]
  • 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book.
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion.
Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.

53% read fiction, 43% nonfiction. The favorite fiction category is mystery & Suspense, 19%.

Each day, people in the US spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.

1992: 20% of adults in the U.S. read at or below the fifth grade level.

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
--Gore Vidal

The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is the bestselling hardcover book in U.S. history. It has sold 55-million copies since it first appeared in 1898.

Via Gordon Meyer.

[1] No idea what happened to the other 26%.

[2] Hey, I just copied this, I didn't write it.