Who reads e-books and how they find them

I reviewed an excellent book on social media marketing, The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What to Post, How to Blog, and Other Proven Strategies, on this blog a few months ago.

In the first chapter, author Dan Zarrella, a social media strategist at Hubspot.com, summarizes his research regarding consumer e-book preferences. He surveyed more than 1,000 American adults who own a computer or e-reader and have a job paying $70,000 or more a year.

I’m sharing just a few gems from that research here. I think it’s useful to authors even if the people surveyed don’t exactly fit your reader demographics. I recommend buying the book so you can get even more information on e-book readers, but also so that you can read Zarrella’s interpretation of the data.

Most of the book, though, is about what, how, and when to share information on social media platforms.

What do they read?

While Zarrella was primarily interested in business book readers, he uncovered other useful information:

  • About 65 percent said they read e-books at least once a month.
  • Less than half said they read business books (Zarrella was doing the research with business e-books in mind).
  • Nearly half said they read fiction e-books.
  • Women were more likely to read fiction e-books than men, while men were more likely to read business e-books than women.
  • Both men and women were less likely to read entertainment e-books than the other three categories – business, fiction, and current events.

How did they hear about the e-books they read?

Zarrella also asked people how they heard about e-books they read. He learned that:

  • 45 percent learned about them directly from Amazon (more women than men).
  • About 35 percent said “recommendations from friends” (more women than men).
  • The third most common way readers heard about e-books was through search engines (more men than women).

Lessons from the data

What can you learn from Zarrella’s research into e-book reading and buying habits? These are my conclusions from his content on e-books as well as the rest of the book:

  • You need  to make sure your book is available in an e-book format because people are reading e-books.
  • While you want your book available for sale in as many outlets as possible, Amazon rules, so make sure it’s available there.
  • Word-of-mouth marketing is essential. Help that along by making sure you use social sharing toolbars and icons on your blog, by creating blog posts and tweets and images that are shareable, and by asking friends for support.
  • Search engine optimization – SEO – is important to getting discovered online, especially if your audience is men.

I took a lot of notes when reading The Science of Marketing. It’s not for entry-level social media users, but if you already understand Twitter and Facebook basics, I highly recommend it. As you can see, just the information in the first chapter on e-book buyers could be worth the price of the book.

Where is your e-book selling the best? Amazon? B&N? The Kobo store? 

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  1. Do you know on your LInkedIN post about blog posts, your picture is on the page, but no place is your name.


    1. Thanks, Connie. That’s odd! On my screen, I see my name right next to my picture. I have no explanation, but thanks for alerting me.


  2. Most of my sales are e-books. One problem all authors have with bound volumes is book sharing or borrowing. If a reader likes your work they will lend your book to a friend, neighbor or relative. They tell you they have done this thinking they are doing you a favor not realizing that it is a lost sale. I find they don’t tend to lend e-books but rather REFER another reader to you works. I believe the reason for this is the low cost of e-books.

    1. That makes sense, Thomas. I use that same observation about loaning out printed books when authors tell me they’re reluctant to sell e-books because they’re afraid they will get passed around too freely.



    1. Thanks, Jason. I’m trying to find stats on Amazon vs. the others and will keep looking!


  3. For those who are thinking of lauching their book, must read this post. I too have the opinion that the readers of E books are increasing day by day and it suggests only one thing – “Go for E-Books”.

    1. Thanks, Ken. Definitely consider e-books if yours is on a niche topic with a small audience and therefore won’t ever have a shot at a bookstore shelf.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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