Who is buying your novel?

Who is buying your mysteries? I don’t know about you but I would love to know who buys mine. Short of that specific data, Sisters in Crime and the Bowker people collaborated on a survey about mystery and crime fiction buyers. It turns out about half of all buyers are avid mystery readers, always reading a mystery. But that means the other half are frequent and/or occasional mystery buyers.

And how about the information that although nearly two-thirds of books are purchased by women, men actually spend more on their books in dollar terms. Are they buying hardback? Are men more selective? They probably aren’t buying those 99 cent Kindle books… Speaking of e-books, in this study conducted in 2010 they remain a small part of the whole picture, less than 10% of all books sold.

Here’s the link to the full report: The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age


For all genres, not just mystery, women continue to buy the majority of books, but men’s share of books is higher in dollars than in units.

Baby boomers and matures (people over 45) purchase over half of all books bought. In the “mystery-detective” category, women and older buyers are even more highly represented. Mystery buyers tend to be Mostly female – 7 out of 10 are women, and More mature– nearly 7 out of 10 are over 45

Retail Channels:

Mystery buying is not only about chains or online retailers. 11% of units are sold through book clubs. 6% of units are sold through independents.

Mysteries are mainly purchased in stores, followed by borrowing from the library, followed by purchasing online.

47% of books bought by men are purchased in a retail store.

E-books play an increasingly larger role •  7.0% of purchases in Q2 2010, increased from 1.7% in Q2 2009.

Book clubs attract more females than males. Around 20% of all readers acquire their mysteries at libraries. Online retailers mostly attract readers under the age of 40.

• Only 12% of readers 60 and older bought books from online retailers. 13% of readers 60 and older acquired a mystery through book clubs such as Mystery Guild.

Marketing and Awareness:

Browsing bookshelves is no longer the only way readers become aware of mystery titles. Book clubs such as Mystery Guild remain one of the top ways readers become aware of mystery titles. The majority of mystery buyers are over 50 and not as influenced by online marketing methods as readers under 50.

Mystery Reading Behavior Overall:

68% of mysteries are purchased by women.

Over half the mysteries purchased are sold to people over the age of 55.

19% of all readers acquire mysteries at libraries.

11% of all mysteries are sold through book clubs such as Mystery Guild.

39% of all mysteries are purchased in stores.

35% of mysteries are purchased by people who live in the South.

77% of mysteries are purchased by households with no children at home.

48% of mysteries are purchased by readers who live in suburban areas.

E-book sales are growing fast. In 2009, 1.7% of books sold were e-books. In Q2 of 2010, 7% of books sold were e-books.

Readers under 40 look for dark, suspenseful stories.

Readers under 40 don’t see mysteries as distinct from other genres as older readers do.

Readers over 60 are more loyal to the author or character than younger readers.

Readers enjoy mysteries to solve the puzzle. They also love surprises, thrills, and suspense.

Name recognition still influences readers to buy popular authors.

Readers are attracted by appealing book covers.

Readers want a preview of story elements before they buy.

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