2014 Romance Reader Survey Results (Data Analysis)
Hello, everyone. I hope you’re having a good holiday season. The results of the 2014 Reader Survey are in. We had 83 respondents! It was more successful than I imagined, and we got a huge amount of information from the survey’s 24 questions. Interestingly enough, the results were quite similar to the Romance Writers of America annual survey, though for our survey I asked more in-depth questions in many cases, and my analysis goes into more detail for publication.
Question number 1 asked about what types of books the respondent reads. A whopping 86.5% said they read fiction, 6% said non-fiction, and 7% said “about ½ and ½.” This was a screening question. If persons only read non-fiction, they were bumped to the end of the survey – the “thank you” page.
Question number 2 was also a screening question. I asked, “The last time you read fiction was:” and over 80% said “today.” Another 27% said “yesterday” and 8.5% said “about one week ago.” The final choice on the question was “One year ago or more,” and if a person answered with that one, they were screened out and bumped to the end of the survey. The point was to survey fiction readers with current interests.
Question number 3 was to screen out non-romance readers. Most people (53.5%) answered that they read a romance book at the rate of “two or more per week.” That was a big number, but clearly, the self-selected survey respondents love to read. Only two people said they never read a romance book. They were bumped out of the survey at that point.
The total bumped out of the survey by this point was 5, leaving 78 for the rest of the tally. Some people skipped some questions, but the average number of replies to the questions was over 70.
Question number 4 involved the sub-genres of romance books. It read, “Among this list, which romance genres do you enjoy? (Choose all that apply.)” Here are the results:
- 53% read Domestic Discipline/Spanking;
- 56% read BDSM;
- 63% read Romantic Suspense/Thrillers;
- 44% read Romantic Crime (including Detective, Cop and Private Eye stories);
- 37% read Science Fiction;
- 38% read Time Travel;
- 46% read Paranormal;
- 33% read Fairy Tales;
- 25% read Age Play;
- 22% read Medical D/s;
- 37% read Family Sagas;
- 38% read Western.
The last two choices were more general:
- 56% read Historicals;
- and (no surprise here) 73% read Contemporary romance.
Remember, this question allowed for multiple answers, so respondents showed they have varied interests. Here are a few more details.
- 94% of persons who liked Romantic Suspense/Thrillers also liked Romantic Crime books;
- 95% of those who liked Age Play also liked BDSM; and,
- only 79.5% of Historical readers also read Contemporary romance books.
(If you want another specific comparison, please ask me. I’m trying for brevity in this post, but there’s a lot of data to be had.)
Question number 5 asked if respondents read any erotic romance. Eighty-eight percent said yes.
Question number 6 was about partnership combos (this was also a choose all that apply question, so there’s some cross-over):
- 97% like M/F pairings;
- 30% said they liked M/M;
- only 21% said they liked F/F;
- and even fewer (13%) said they liked F/M/F triads (which explains a few of my books’ lack of success);
- 51% said they liked M/F/M;
- 37% said they liked M/M/F Mènage; and, finally,
- 15% said they liked M/F/F Mènage.
Question number 7 was, “What format books do you read? (Choose all that apply.)”
- 96% percent read ebooks (yay!); and
- 59% read print books;
- About 27% listen to audio books;
- 95% of ebook readers also read print books,
- while just 58% of respondents who chose “print books” also choose ebooks, so there’s definitely a divide.
Question number 8 asked about where people usually buy/obtain books. A big 97% chose Amazon. The next highest were “brick and mortar” at 30% and “publisher’s online store” at 26%. Of the publisher online stores chosen, an overwhelming number said, “Blushing Books.” Remember, this is self-selected cadre of volunteers.
Question number 9 asked about Amazon. Ninety-four percent said they buy Amazon books “like any other product” as opposed to using KU or KOLL.
Question number 10 found that if a reader was familiar with an author, they were 50% likely to buy the book when it first comes out, and a nifty 40% would pre-order the book. Only 10% said they’d wait for the book to be discounted.
Question number 11 was about unfamiliar authors. This was a pretty mixed bag of results. Thirty-four percent said they’d buy an unfamiliar author’s book when it first came out; roughly 25% said they’d only be interested in that author’s sale books; 21% said they’d wait for the book to be discounted; 17% said they’d wait for the book to become free; and a tiny number said they’d pre-order the book if the price was reasonable.
Questions 12 and 13, asked about prices for a work of approximately 50,000 words (175 pages). I thought that was middle ground. You can extrapolate shorter or longer work’s prices from these results. For authors they were familiar with, 31% said $4.99 and an equal number 31% said $3.99. No one said “free.” For authors that were new to them, 33% said they’d pay $2.99, and 20 percent said up to $4.99. No one said “free.” (Five people skipped this question.)
Question 14 requested respondents make a choice on grammar matters. Eighty-eight percent of those that answered said that grammar, punctuation, spelling, homonyms and continuity were “important” to them, as opposed to “neither important nor unimportant,” or “not important.” This just underlines the importance of having a good editor.
Question 15 was about the basis of book buying decisions. This was also a “choose all that apply” question, so there’s some cross-over here.
- 74% make their decision based on the blurb; of those, 81% of those also judge by the cover;
- 63% are influenced by positive reviews, and
- 33% are influenced by negative reviews
- 49% of those influenced by positive reviews were also influenced by negative reviews.
Questions 16 and 17 asked about how often people leave reviews. Eighty-four percent said they leave 3 or more star reviews when they can, while 56% said they leave negative reviews “hardly ever.”
Question 18 pinned down the review answers by asking, “Do you read product reviews before buying?” Seventy-nine percent answered yes.
Question 19 moved on to series vs. stand-alone books. By far, the majority (80%) said that it didn’t matter whether a book was a stand-alone or part of a series; they read them both.
Question 20 asked about social media. Most people (76%) use Facebook for exposure to new books (but that’s also where most of the appeals for respondents were posted). Second to that was Goodreads (42%). A significant number of people also turn to Book Bub, Book Gorilla, and Read Cheaply which are discounted book newsletters.
Questions 21-23 were optional demographics questions. Nearly all respondents said they’d answer the optional questions. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they were 36 or older. Of those, 39% were 56+. Of the respondents, 8 were men, and the others were women.
There were a number of extra comments left on the survey, but I’m not including them because some persons might feel it reveals their identity. I don’t know who these people are (the survey was anonymous), so even if I wanted to ask their permission, I could not.
So those were the results. For a PDF of the full results, please request it in email. I hope you found this helpful. I know I did!
Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope to do this again in the future – probably not every year, but maybe every 2-3 years.