What’s going on with readers today?

Some of the Goodreads member survey results will surprise you

You might recall an article a few months ago that asked the question, “What do readers want?”. It was a call for publishing types to submit questions that Goodreads could ask their members. Your questions ultimately formed the basis of the Goodreads member survey.

I was fortunate enough to join Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler on stage for his presentation of the survey results at TOC NY a couple of weeks ago. The presentation featured a good deal of Q&A between Otis, myself and the audience, making it one of the most interesting sessions I’ve recently sat in on. I wanted to highlight a few of the more noteworthy takeaways from it in this article. The entire deck is embedded below, so you’ll want to flip through it as you read my commentary.

Slide #6 — As an industry we’ve long wondered just how influential social media is for book discovery. Take a peek at this slide and you’ll see, at least for the two titles in question, the answer is “not very influential.” Facebook and Twitter both fall well below most other forms of discovery while the timeless option of a friend’s recommendation (presumably outside of Facebook) still ranks at the top.

Slide #9 — If a friend is best for discovery it stands to reason that they’ll also influence you to actually read a book. That’s exactly what this slide shows. Even Amazon’s powerful review platform only ranks in the bottom half of these choices. Also, note how low both “book blurb” and “cover” rank here. Even though those blurbs typically end up in the online description for the catalog page it makes you wonder just how influential they are.

Slide #21 — Still in denial about whether ebooks are read on mobile phones? Almost 40% of cell phone owners read ebooks on them for all the typical reasons, but mostly while commuting or stuck in line. (Btw, how do your books render on a mobile phone? You might want to check into that…)

Slide #25 — 73% of ebook readers shop around for the best price. So that would imply they’re willing to buy from different retailers, either using different devices or apps on a tablet. More on that in slide 26.

Slide #26 — OK, here’s the most fascinating slide in the entire deck, IMHO. It more or less destroys the notion that platform lock-in is a problem. How else can you explain that 18% of Kindle ebook readers also read via iBooks and 15% also read Nook books? The other charts on this slide show just how much crossover there is going in the other direction. So not only is the e-reading lock-in problem overrated, it’s also clear there’s quite a bit of reading happening on tablets rather than dedicated e-readers.

Slides #27 and #28 — These two should be a wake-up call for anyone in marketing. When they get to the end, a whopping 83% of readers want to see what else the author has written. But, as slide #28 shows, we don’t exactly make it easy for our customers to discover and purchase that next book.

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