American vs. British readers

Some interesting analysis of US and UK reading habits, courtesy of the summer edition of The Author magazine:

  • American readers prefer romance; British ones prefer literary fiction
  • Men make 35% of book purchases in the US; 42% in the UK
  • In both countries, two-thirds of books are bought by people over the age of 42
  • In fiction, mystery and romance account for 58% of purchases in the US, compared with 31% in the UK
  • In non-fiction, religious books do well in the US; celebrity biographies in the UK.

Original source was a presentation at the London Book Fair by survey companies BML, who surveyed UK readers, and Pub Track/Bowker, who did the same in the US. At first I was quite struck by the fact that two-thirds of books are bought by people over the age of 42, and was going to start writing about how young people don’t read etc etc. But then I realised that probably two-thirds of adults are over 42 anyway, so actually it’s the sort of proportion you’d expect!

I guess the real question is why men don’t read very much. Certainly when doing publicity for my book, I’ve noticed that most of the people who turn up to readings and speaking events are women, and on sites like Goodreads or in book blogs, I’d say there are more women than men. That’s just my own experience, though – what do you think? Are there more women than men involved in reading and talking about books? If so, any idea why? (No need for proof or data of any kind – wild speculation is more than welcome here!).

3 thoughts on “American vs. British readers

  1. I think there are more women out there reading and networking in the writing/reading arena.

    Not sure why.

    Women are more social. Women talk about books more, so it’s a cycle. They talk. They go out an buy. They read. Women have more time if they stay at home. Women seem to multitask better, in general, that I’ve seen. And aren’t there more women than men anyway? I have no idea… but those are my thoughts. Interesting!

  2. Good thoughts! It’s true, I don’t talk about books that much with my male friends – unless I know they have a particular interest in reading or writing. And this blog started out as an essentially selfish endeavour – I found myself forgetting books I’d read, so wanted to review them as a way to remember them. Not very social behaviour!

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