Thursday, February 21, 2008

Word-of-Mouth is Still King

In last week’s issue of Publisher’s Weekly, Felicia Pride reported on the results of the African-American Culture Study. It studied book buying habits in 2007. According to the survey, 33% buy 5 to 10 books a year and decide what to buy mainly through word-of-mouth.

In fact, 55% of those surveyed choose books through recommendations from family and friends. 34% got recommendations from bestseller lists, though only 18% through the Essence Bestsellers list, and 17% through book club recommendations. 20% got recommendations from African-American critics. But only 8% from reviews in African-American newspapers. Oprah’s influence also didn’t seem to be big factor as only 11% of those surveyed got recommendations from her book club.

One thing that shocked me was that although most of those surveyed claimed the last book they read was fiction, only 3% of those were street lit titles, making me wonder who is buying up all these street lit titles that are flying off the shelves, teens? I would have been interested to see the percentage of people who got recommendations from ads, commercials, book videos, and endorsements from other authors. I imagine those numbers must not have been significant enough to list.

In the end, I guess the lesson for authors is to write the best book you can, and if people love it, they’ll talk about it to everyone they know ; ).



patricia sargeant said...

Great and important information, Angela. Thank you so much for updating us on the survey.

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