Three Reasons People Buy Books

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Over 850 million books are purchased in the United States each year. According to Nielson, a global information, data, and measurement company, 47% of the American population purchases books. If you do the math, 151 million people bought these books. This means, on average, these book buyers purchase five to six books a year. Why do people buy books? There are three main reasons people buy any product, books included, and better understanding why will help you build your author platform.

1. It Meets a Need

We buy groceries to feed ourselves, clothes to wear, and furniture to sit on. Why we choose to buy what we buy in each of these categories is generally personal preference, but the fact remains that we purchase things to meet a need.

Books are no different. People buy books to meet a need they have in their life. That need is usually for entertainment (fiction and biography/memoir books) or to learn something (nonfiction books). It might be that a person wants to lose weight, improve a relationship, or learn a new skill. Books provide both entertainment and education.

2. To Give as a Gift

Giving gifts is a common practice. We give gifts at all important milestones and celebrations, and books make great gifts. In fact, people buy books, lots of them, to give as gifts. According to Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah, 25% of trade books are bought as gifts, and 43% of books purchased as gifts are for children 12 and under.

3. As an Impulse

Impulse buying is a spur-of-the-moment, unplanned decision to buy. Research suggests that emotions play a large role in triggering an impulse purchase. One study by The Codex Group found that 22% of survey respondents reported that they had purchased a book on impulse.

Understanding why people buy books and how people make purchasing choices can inform your book marketing practices. People make purchasing decisions rooted in emotional impulses as much as logical facts. Your book marketing efforts should speak to both emotion and logic.

Following are three takeaway book marketing ideas you can use from understanding the three reasons people buy books. You can put these into practice when marketing directly to consumers and when marketing your book to the media for book publicity

1. Market to the Need

Your promotional efforts should highlight the need your book addresses. Point the need out to your potential reader and assure them that your book provides a solution to that need. What does your book offer readers? A stress-free life? Knowledge to be a better parent? A great romance story? Make sure your readers know how your book fills a need in their life.

2. Promote Your Book as a Great Gift

Since 1/4 of all books are purchased as gifts, what kind of gift is your book best suited to? A child’s birthday? A house-warming gift? A graduation gift? A Father’s Day gift? A Grandparent’s Day gift? A Christmas gift? A teacher gift?

Books make great gifts and one book marketing strategy is to encourage your readers to purchase yours for that reason. Remind your readers why books are the perfect gifts, including: 

  • Books are for everyone.
  • Books are affordable.
  • Books don’t go out of style.
  • Books last.
  • Books are life-changing.

 3. Seize the Impulse

At least 1/5 of book buyers buy a book as an impulse. They see the book and decide to buy it. What draws them in? The book’s cover. The cover is a book’s top marketing tool. Make sure your book has a cover that draws people’s attention and makes them want to own it and that it includes strong back cover copy. That way, whether they are browsing online or in a physical store, your book catches their attention, tugs at their emotions, and creates the urge to buy now.


How to Build an Author Platform 

Sarah Bolme

Sarah Bolme is the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association. Through this organization Sarah provides assistance to small publishers and independently published authors marketing books to the Christian marketplace. Sarah is also the author of the award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, now in its third edition.