Book Buying Survey Results

Posted 20 July, 2014 by Rinn in Misc. / 35 Comments

Back at the beginning of June, I posted a Book Buying Survey – and within a couple of days, thanks to many wonderful people on Twitter and elsewhere, I had over 100 responses! The total number was 110, and it would have kept on rising but unfortunately SurveyMonkey only lets you use 100 responses with a free account, so I had to close the survey and base my results on the first 100 responses. I’m finally publishing the results – I’ve made an infographic, and then I’m discussing them at the bottom. Let me know what you think!

Results Results Results Results Results

And now to discuss the results!


  1. Are you a blogger? [Yes 87%, No 13%] – this didn’t surprise me, I believe the majority of my readers are fellow bloggers.

  2. What book formats do you tend to buy most often? You can choose more than one. [Paperback 78%, Ebook 50%, Hardback 34%, Audiobook 5%] – this really surprised me! I’ve noticed on many book haul posts that a lot of bloggers seem to buy hardbacks over paperbacks, so I was expecting that to come out top. I also wasn’t expecting ebooks to come in second place! I don’t know if some people counted books they received for free or ARCs, as well as ones they actually paid for, which might explain the ebooks.

  3. Do you buy most of your books brand new or secondhand? [Brand new 77%, Secondhand 23%] – again, not a surprise. Shiny new books! A lot of readers want a specific cover, plus if we’re all after new releases then it’s tricky to find them secondhand, at least for a while. Personally I buy most of mine secondhand, as I’m saving for uni, but I do buy brand new if I’m particularly excited for a release.

  4. Where do you tend to buy your books? You can choose more than one. [Online 83%, Bookshop chains 58%, Secondhand 34%, Independent bookshops 27%] – this is quite a sad result, but not at all surprising. There’s always news about how independent bookshops are dying out, and how big online retailers like Amazon are taking over the market. I do try to support my local bookshop when I can.

  5. Do you read ARCs? [Yes 74%, No 26%] – this means that some of the bloggers taking part don’t read any ARCs. I know of some bloggers who don’t, although most I know do tend to read them.

  6. If you read ARCs, do you tend to buy a finished copy of the book if you really enjoyed it? [Yes 33%, No 41%, I don’t read ARCs 26%] – only a third of ARC readers buy a finished copy of an ARC they’ve really enjoyed. I am guilty of this, although there are several I have intentions of buying when I can afford to. I suppose this also depends on people’s preferences in another way: personally if I love a book and I don’t own it, I’ll make sure to buy it one day. Some people read and never re-read so what’s the point in buying a copy? It is nice to see that some people do buy the finished copies though!

  7. Do you tend to buy several books at once, or just one at a time? [Several at once 74%, Just the one 26%] – some people can obviously show more self restraint, unlike me! I’m glad to see that the majority feel the need to buy a stack of books in one go though…

  8. What normally encourages you to buy a book? You can choose more than one option. [A book that is by a favourite author or part of a favourite series 88%, Reviews online/on blogs 77%, Recommendations from friends 61%, Anticipated release 61%, The blurb 57%, The cover 56%, The genre 48%, Impulse buy 28%, Reviews in professional publications 13%] – I’m really not surprised by this order! It was nice to see that over a quarter of us indulge in impulse buys, and over half of us are encouraged by our friends and fellow readers to try a book out.

  9. Do you have a favourite publisher, or publishers, that you prefer to buy from? [Yes 28%, No 19%, The publisher makes no difference 53%] – I don’t know why I phrased this question in this way, because I guess both ‘No’ and ‘The publisher makes no difference’ are really the same. But I was surprised to see that over a quarter of respondents have a favourite publisher. I guess I also have a few that I have a little soft spot for, because they’re always brilliant on social media, communications and the like.

  10. Do you ever preorder books? [Yes but only if I’m anticipating the release 65%, Yes for every book I buy 0%, No 34%, Skipped 1] – quite a few people tend to preorder, it seems! I don’t think I’ve ever preordered a book. Video games and films yes, but never a book for some reason…

  11. What do you think of the results? Do you have any comments to add to your answers? Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey!


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35 responses to “Book Buying Survey Results

  1. Oh, the poor bookstores. ๐Ÿ™ Sadly, the fact is buying online is much more convenient because you know you’ll find the book you want, whereas multiple times I’ve left independents without the book I was hunting for.

    I’m surprised about the paperbacks because I usually see people talking about the hardcover editions on their blogs too. But I’ll always be a paperback fan myself, so much easier to hold!
    Anne @ Lovely Literature recently posted…Stay-in-Bed Sampler: Favorite games of the non-video variety

    • Yes, sad but true ๐Ÿ™ Although lately I’ve found Amazon isn’t any cheaper for physical copies. I’ve also been only trying to buy ebooks though.

      Exactly, that’s why I was surprised! So many people seem to have LOADS of hardbacks! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  2. Ugh. If I wasn’t poor, I would actually try to find a local independent bookstore to support (but it seems like one doesn’t exist buy my place either. Also, I think I would be more excited for used bookstores if they had the books I liked stocked. Though truthfully, I rarely buy books, I just get them from the library nowadays. My library has an amazing system and is connected to every other library in the region+plus the Boston Public Library ๐Ÿ˜€

    I don’t think I’ll buy books I’ve already read as ARCs. But then again I haven’t read that many ARCs yet. And I’ve never preordered a book. Though I really really really really am excited for Clariel to come out. Though I might not even pre-order that either. Just like you said, video games are the only things I pre-order (AKA ASSASSIN’S CREED MUHAHA)
    Valerie recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #6

    • I know, if it wasn’t for the fact I’m SUPPOSED to be saving money I’d only really buy from my local bookshop. Especially because they can get you the book you need by the next day. I’ve been using my library a lot more recently as well, but only for comic books – like you, I can order in from every library in the area ๐Ÿ˜€

      CLARIEL YESSSS. I seethe with jealously at everyone who has an ARC. I got rejected on Edelweiss, boooo ๐Ÿ™

      The only video game I’ve pre-ordered was Mass Effect 3 because Mass Effect. I would definitely pre-order Dragon Age: Inquisition and Assassin’s Creed Unity if I was going to have a decent PC to play them on, but alas, me and my desktop will part for a little while soon (and during the time that they’re released ๐Ÿ™ )

  3. I don’t like hardcovers. They’re expensive, they’re bulky/heavy, and I have hated dust jackets ever since I was a child. (I hate dust jackets so much that when I do end up with a hardcover, I throw the DJ away.) So many books come out first in hardcover these days that I just buy the ebook instead of waiting months for the paperback. That might account for the higher percentage of ebooks than you expected. Every time I go into Barnes & Noble with a coupon (the only time I go there), it’s a struggle for me to find something to buy. I usually go in wanting a newer release, but so many of them are hardcovers and I’m just not going to buy them.
    Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA recently posted…Weekly Rewind: July 13-19

    • That’s exactly what I think! I never understood all these pictures of various bloggers’ bookshelves full of hardbacks. Too bulky! ๐Ÿ˜›

      I’ve actually found that a lot of books I’ve wanted recently have come out straight away in paperback. I know we had that with Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight over here – in fact I’ve never even seen a hardback for either of them – so I’m just wondering if it’s more of a UK thing? Good point about the ebooks though! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I don’t know how Throne of Glass came out first, but Crown of Midnight is only hardcover in the US currently. Amazon says September 2 for the CoM paperback and March for The Assassin’s Blade. Other books I’ve wanted lately but can’t get in paperback: Nantucket Red, Sinner, Hungry, Defy, Fan Art, The Body in the Woods, My Best Friend Maybe, Welcome to the Dark House. I think hardcover is better for the authors, but I’m glad to have the ebook option that didn’t exist in the past.
        Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA recently posted…Weekly Rewind: July 13-19

        • Oh really? I want to know why it’s out in paperback here already! Maybe I should contact some publishers and do a post or something ๐Ÿ˜›

          I have to say, I haven’t heard of any of the books that you’ve listed :/

  4. I try to go to Barnes and Noble as often as I can, but usually only when I have a coupon, or I’m just buying ONE book and sticking to that promise. If I’m buying more than three, I usually do it online, because I can save quite a bit of money if I order from BN online. Amazon is another option I use, but lately I’ve really tried to stick with BN. I wish I could support an indie, but the closest one to me is an hour drive!

    The paperback vs. hardback thing surprised me too – most of the time I see hardbacks on all the stacking the shelves post. I also didn’t know so many people judge by publisher – I thought I was just being really anal about it xD Good to know we’re all crazy together!
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted…Weekly Recap 36 (July 20) โ€“ Barnes and Noble is Awesome

    • Yeah, that’s generally when I use the big shops like Waterstones – when they have their 3 for 2 deals or something. It’s really difficult when the indie shops are far away, but you feel like you should support them ๐Ÿ™

      Exactly! And then that ebooks were second ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      I don’t judge by publisher, but like I mentioned above I do kind of have a ‘soft spot’ for a couple of them, because they’ve been so wonderful to me ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Interesting results, thanks for doing this. It’s no surprise to me that online buying has a really strong showing in an online poll, particularly one where highly-connected bloggers are the main people responding. Sometimes I do offline polls for my local-interest blog, and the differences between that and online polls for the same question can be startling. Perhaps a quarter of the people I speak to during in-person polls aren’t on the internet. It’s quite a different demographic.

    So, perhaps things aren’t looking so bad for high street bookstores? They may have a few years before everyone else catches up with the shopping habits of bloggers.

    • This is very true, I didn’t really think of it that way. I wonder how different an offline poll would be? Of course that would make the reach a lot smaller. Pros and cons to both!

      Oh no, I don’t think things are bad at all ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps not so wonderful for independent bookstores – I know many are struggling – but they’re still being used. I worked in an independent bookshop about 6 years ago, and some days we took very little, other days lots. I guess all sorts of things come into it: what’s just been released, the weather, the people who live nearby, the immediate area & whether it gets lots of visitors, etc etc!

  6. I feel so bad about the independent bookstores ๐Ÿ™ There’s actually none where I live so I just buy from a bookstore chain, or online (mostly bookoutlet.ca and TBD for certain UK covers.) When I go to Toronto though, I make it a point to visit an independent bookstore.

    And I only buy physical copies of books I would want to keep on my shelf aka favorites since I don’t really have a lot of space. I mostly read ebooks, even the ones I borrow from the library are eBooks now and since our blog is only a year old I don’t really get a lot of physical ARCs yet but they are slowly trickling in.

    Thanks for sharing the results to us Rinn, this is certainly enlightening!
    Amir recently posted…Review: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

    • Well at least you try to visit them when you can! Like you said, you don’t live near any.

      I should try that tactic ๐Ÿ˜› I’m kind of running out of space… although I will get rid of some when I (eventually) read them.

      I have to say, some of the results were surprising ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  7. Awesome infographic! I wasn’t too surprised to see paperback come out on top. I know some people prefer hardbound because they last longer, but I personally feel they’re too bulky and the dust jackets (beautiful as they are) are so annoying! I usually buy my books at Barnes & Nobles, so I’m guilty of feeding the big book store machine, but it’s mostly because there aren’t any Indie book stores close by (that I know of). Now I’m more motivated to find one!
    Kritika recently posted…Review: The House of Four Winds

  8. First of all, amazing graphics ๐Ÿ˜€ Very interesting that even e-books defeated hardbacks. Like you, I always have the idea I see hardbacks in bookhauls (I myself prefer paperback) I always support local bookstores as much as I can too. I hardly pre-order, also because the two times I did the book arrived far too late.. So for me, I don’t see the use of it.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 274. Elizabeth May โ€“ The falconer.

    • Surprising, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      That’s a shame about pre-orders, that totally defeats the point :/ I might get excited about a new book, but I never quite feel excited enough to pre-order it to be honest.

  9. Buying books online is just so much easier here because the bookstores tend to be rather expensive. I do know some independent bookstores that I used to go to. The books were about the same price, but they had rather hard-to-find books for me, and $20 for a hardback there was about the same price for a newly-released paperback at the big name store. I’ll probably go back there once my book-buying ban is over. ๐Ÿ˜›
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Review 91: Princess Academy (Shannon Hale)

    • I guess it’s the same everywhere, which is sad ๐Ÿ™ Or people can’t really get to actual bookshops.

      Book buying ban? Madness! Even though I should be on one myself…

    • Thanks Annie ๐Ÿ˜€ I never consider the publisher specifically when buying a book, but I am definitely much more aware of publishers, imprints etc than before I was blogging. I see an imprint and think ‘oh that’s part of X publisher’ ๐Ÿ˜›

  10. Fab! Eagerly waited for this.

    1 – I think most book bloggers have resigned themselves to the fact that their audience is mostly fellow bloggers, and I think that’s OK.

    2. I considered this to be books I buy. Paperbacks by far outweigh the rest, but I would buy more eBooks than hardbacks. Doesn’t mean I always read them but I have a weakspot for eBooks with lovely covers that range from ยฃ0.00-ยฃ0.99p. I count eBooks priced at ยฃ0.00 as books I’ve “bought” because they aren’t arcs and they do go up in price once they’re off promotion. I RARELY buy a hardback unless it happens to be a fabulous offer.

    3. I would buy more second hand books if I was able to nearby, I don’t buy secondhand on-line cuz I can hunt out the best deals ever on new books, so they’re actually cheaper.

    4. I do buy mostly online from either the likes of Amazon or bookshop chain websites, the deals are simply better. I don’t have a local independent really so the best I can do is support the local book chain. I’d be devastated if they were to shut down.

    6. I haven’t done this yet, but I intend to. I’d only buy it if I loved it that much I’d want a copy on my shelf to reread. The fact I have the eBook to reread is a bonus. As far as I know publishers write these sales off anyways, so any sales is a bonus. I’m curious though – does the finished copy ever really change THAT much??? I’m thinking I might make a response post based on this comment and these questions, cuz it is loooong.

    7. If I can ever buy one book, there’s a reason it’s only one. I buy none for 6 weeks then splurge!

    R x
    Rachel recently posted…New Feature! (S)he Said

    • Yes, perhaps sometimes we isolate non-bloggers with talks of ARCs etc, but I don’t mind if my readers are bloggers or not, as long as they love books and chatting about them ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I tend to find myself only buying hardbacks if I want that book there and then, and there’s no pback yet, or if it’s second hand and I’ve wanted it for ages, but they only have a hardback copy. Then I think it’s worth putting up with the bulkiness because it was so cheap ๐Ÿ˜›

      Yes, second hand online can prove more expensive once you factor in shipping and/or postage… although one of my favourite places, especially for academic books, is AbeBooks ๐Ÿ™‚

      A lot of us don’t seem to have local independent shops, to be honest! Perhaps that’s another possible question to tie in – do you have access to an independent book shop, and do you use it?

      Most of the finished copies don’t differ TOO much from the ARCs we receive, I think the main thing is tidying up grammar, punctuation and formatting? If you write a post, be sure to let me know! ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Wow! This was definitely really interesting! It’s weird seeing how all bloggers come out with different results when they do surveys. I’m seen 50/50 bloggers and non-bloggers before and that was so surprising! I’m amazed by how many people can control their buying. :O Even though I think most people prefer hardbacks, paperbacks are just so much cheaper which is why they always come out on top for me! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Book Review: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

    • I know! If I’m in a charity shop, I’m doomed. I always buy at least four books…

      Paperbacks are my favourite too ๐Ÿ˜€

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