Reader Digest

Much hoopla has been made of the recent article stating that one in four readers last year didn’t read a single book. Yeah that’s bad for society and bad in general for the publishing industry, but it’s not really all that bad of news for writers.

The estimated population of the USA right now is 302,853,302. That means, according to the study, there were still 75,713,325 people in the country who read a book last year. And the median number of books read was nine. That means half read more than nine and half read less. If we just take the half that read nine or more books, that leaves 37,856,662 readers. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Even with the “dismal” numbers in the survey, the reader pool is still VERY large. When you consider that the new Harry Potter book had a first printing of 12 million copies, that translates into sales of roughly 6 million copies. To make a huge seller like that, only 15 percent of the heavy readers in the county had to buy it. But let’s look at it from a more realistic goal. The bestselling book in 2006 was ONE MORE DAY by Mitch Albom with sales just over 500,000 copies. That’s about 1 percent of that reader pool. Many other top sellers had sales of 100,000 to 250,000 which is even less than half of a percent of that reader pool.

So yes, there are some serious problems with the publishing industry and things need to change, but there is not a lack of readers out there and there won’t be for quite a long time.

3 thoughts on “Reader Digest

  1. I like the math. Now all I have to do is go to Wal-Mart every day and poke holes in all the condoms to get a literary baby boom going. Maybe Wal-Mart isn’t the right place…I do think “readership” will rebound. But probably in ways we haven’t discovered yet. A fanfic author named Maya had been getting 40,000 downloads of her free books. Now she just inked a 3-book deal for nearly seven figures. And she’s only 23. Hold on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…

  2. I read this post to my Lovely Bride, who then told me her own perspective on the famous survey. She assumed that at least part of it was done by phone and, (and I quote) “Do you come to the phone when YOU’RE reading?”

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