Why do people buy books?

Back in 2010, a survey of book buying behaviour in the US returned the following figures:

Author reputation52%
Personal recommendation49%
Book Reviews37%

A more recent survey (2018) conducted by BookNet Canada returned these figures:

Familiarity with the author35.5%
Read a synopsis25.8%
Familiarity with the series17.2%
Cover design6.9%
Awards and bestseller stickers/badges6.5%
Saw an ad for the book4.7%
Author or celebrity endorsement3.1%

Of course, it’s risky comparing two different surveys with different methodologies, etc., but a couple of things stand out for me. Price – an important consideration at the dawn of the ebook era – seems to have vanished as a purchasing consideration, while author familiarity/reputation is still key. As BookNet Canada note:

To the chagrin of debut authors everywhere, the most influential factor is a pre-existing familiarity with an author, with 35.5% of Canadian readers identifying it as the most important influence on their decision to read or listen to a book. Though this isn’t to say that readers have to be familiar with the author based on previous books published — the author can be a celebrity, a social media guru, a politician, or be featured in the news. There are many ways to establish familiarity with potential readers.

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