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Old 02-02-2007, 04:12 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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80% of Americans want to write a book

One might think that book writing hopefuls are some sort of elite minority, or at least a peculiar minority. Not true according to a survey by the Jenkins Group, because about 80% of Americans want to become an author.

Here are quite a few more interesting statistics collected by Dan Poynter and presented by Robyn Jackson, which are sure to dash any romantic notions about the book business:

* 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
* 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
* 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
* 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
* 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
* 70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
* 70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.
* A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.
* A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.
* On average, a bookstore browser spends 8 seconds looking at a book's front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.
* Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:48 PM   #2
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I knew I wasn't like other people. I'm one of the 20%. But in college when I took a speed reading course, I was the only one in double digits when asked how many "pleasure" books you had read in the past year. I figured conservatively 50. It would have been greater without all the required reading. I think the next highest was 4.

Also I saw on "Good Morning America" where an author had written a book on how you could read 52 books a year. Go figure!
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:00 PM   #3
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Now what would be funny would be if the 80% that do want to write a book are the same 80% that did not buy or read a book in the last year.

As bad as that joke seems if we assume that everyone that read or bought a book in the last year (the 20%) want to write a book then the remaining 60% are people that have not read or bought a book in the last year meaning that at least 75% of the people that didn't touch a book (except to move it) last year want to write one.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:01 PM   #4
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I think it's probably more "want to have written a book."
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Studio717
I think it's probably more "want to have written a book."
Yes you're right. In the eyes of society, you're much smarter if you wrote and published something. It's pretty much like having a big car or a nice looking girlfriend...

But I still believe that a whole lot of people ARE right now writing books, and that with no publishing cost at all, e-books will make more original materials available. Even if just a few % of these books that wouldn't be available otherwise is good, and the rest complete crap, it's still a good thing: we'll see more and more e-books and long forgotten formats (like short stories, you can't publish them on a dead tree if you don't have a collection, with a single short story, you can sell it to a magazine and that's it) re-appear.

That's also the reason why I'm working on Feedbooks: to provide an easy way for anyone to publish it on our website and make it available to all the supported readers.
I don't believe that e-book will win the argument against p-book if it doesn't try what you can't do with paper. Anyone could write a novel, make it available as an e-book and talk about it on blogs etc... It won't raise the overall quality up, but we'll see new niches for the book market, and new talented people too.
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Old 02-03-2007, 05:13 AM   #6
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* 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
* 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
* 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
* 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

This is horrifying. Goes some way to explaining the kinds of problems we have in the world.
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Old 02-03-2007, 09:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slayda
Also I saw on "Good Morning America" where an author had written a book on how you could read 52 books a year. Go figure!
Well, to be honest, maybe they were showing how to "Cut Down and Only Read 52 Books a Year". A reading 12-step program as it were. (Though knowing people in these times your original thought is probably correct and includes Chick tracts and kinda-thick magazines in the yearly totals.)
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Old 02-03-2007, 12:29 PM   #8
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Its nice to be in an elite
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Old 02-03-2007, 03:11 PM   #9
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If you've ever been to Fanfiction.net, you'll see it is entirely possible those 80% who don't read books are the same 80% who want to write them. Most "authors" are in the 8 to 28 year-old range and are filled with the burning desire to impose their inane, regurgitated daydreams, bad spelling and horrifying grammar upon millions of unsuspecting and like-minded victims.

Visit the site at your own risk!
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Old 02-03-2007, 05:24 PM   #10
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There was a sign in the window of my fav bookstore (now sadly closed) that read "If you can read this sentance, you can read a whole book."
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Old 02-09-2007, 07:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hadrien
But I still believe that a whole lot of people ARE right now writing books.
In a recent blog article, an agent said that, 20 years ago, her agency received 2-3,000 queries a year. Today, they receive that number in a month. So I'd say that there are more and more people who do write that book.

What I find, as an editor, is that the quality is dismal. Most writers will send and unedited first draft, which is often barely legible, so that agents and editors have to slug through crap to get to the really good stuff.
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