Monday, August 02, 2010

Survey Finds Mystery Readers Surprisingly Savvy

A recent survey commissioned by mystery writer Elaine Viets showed that 98 percent of mystery readers are “aware the authors receive no royalties when they purchased used books.”

The nationwide survey was conducted by Trigger Advertising Group.

Some 300 readers of Viets’s books responded. Viets writes two bestselling series: the Dead-End Job mysteries and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novels. Both are published by Obsidian, a division of the Penguin Group.

Word of mouth is critical for these mystery readers. They rely on recommendations from “trustworthy friends, renowned authors or magazines.”

The survey also found that the majority of readers bought between 10 and 30 books per year. They bought books for leisure reading year round, but bought slightly more books during the summer.

Trigger Advertising is composed of recent graduates of the world-famous Journalism School at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

When asked where they usually get their novels, those surveyed had the options of chain bookstores, local/specialty bookstores, online (Amazon, eBay), libraries and borrowing from friends. The option most chosen was chain bookstores, with online purchases coming a close second. A hefty 39 percent go to local or specialty bookstores.

Blogs, e-lists and websites play a key role in providing information about the mystery author: 35% first heard about Elaine Viets on the Internet. The other respondents learned about her mysteries through bookstore and library displays, her former newspaper column and word of mouth.

Book buyers had firm opinions about e-books. They believe “e-book prices should be lower than printed versions.” They would “still buy the e-book at the same price as the print version if it was an author he or she already enjoys.”

Elaine Viets’ latest Dead-End Job hardcover, Half-Price Homicide, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and praise from Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times. Her next Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novel will be published November 2010.

For more about Elaine and her books, visit her website.


Beth Groundwater said...

These readers may be like me. I buy a lot of new mystery books written by author friends and those whose series I admire. However, if I come across a new-to-me author whose long-running series I like, I can't afford to buy their whole backlist new. That's when I hit the used bookstore with a list in hand.

Elaine Viets said...

One reader told me she only buys used books if she dislikes the author. Her mother liked a certain mystery writer and the reader didn't, so she bought all the books used to read to Mom.

KK Brees said...

I'll buy new books (like Beth) when I can, but for an extensive backlist, I'll visit the library or buy used. There's an entire sub-industry on eBay selling used books and that bothers me a great deal.

Julie Hyzy said...

Fascinating information. Thanks for posting this, Molly. And thank you, Elaine, for commissioning the survey!


Elaine Viets said...

I get the backlist from the library. That way I feel the author is still getting some royalties. I'm lucky that the Broward County Library has a good collection.