Some depressing statistics on books

There is a very long page devoted to statistics about books and the publishing industry. Some of these may make an aspiring writer wonder if getting published is worth it. Unless you make it big, will anyone read the thing? you might wonder. Others make you wonder about the sick state of humanity. Even after considering that a lot of statistics in general are made up, you really do have to wonder about gems like these.

* Most initial print runs are 5,000 copies. (Publishing for Profit by Tom Woll. Page 113)

* A larger publisher must sell 10,000 books to break even.
–Brian DeFiore, Maui Writers Conference.

* On the average, a book store browser spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.
–The Wall Street Journal

* “40% of people admit to lying about having read certain books, according to a study published last year by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.”
–BBC News,

(Admit it. You’ve done it too.)

* Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.


* 2001: People in the U.S. read an average of more than 14 books each year.

I’m thinking Gallup happened to sample people on both ends of the extreme: people who don’t read at all and people who read a LOT.

* 70% of Americans haven’t visited a bookstore in five (5) years.
–Michael Levine, June 2002

* Only 32% of the U.S. population has ever been in a bookstore.
–David Godine, Publisher.

I call shenanigans, but if it is true, I weep for humanity.

* 63% of adults report purchasing at least one book during the previous three-month period. (Most were probably exaggerating).
–Bookselling This Week, November 10, 1997.

* Libraries lose 20% of their books each year. Some books get past the security devices and others are just not returned.
–Librarian speaking at a conference some years ago.

I’ve always wondered about this. But 20%? Is this why the book I want isn’t there? And finally, a quote that I should start asking people.

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”
—Gore Vidal, author.

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