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March 26, 2005

Word of mouth is the most important factor in making a book successful


This was among the most significant results of this year's World Book Day survey in Britain.

One in four readers said the last book they read was based on a personal recommendation from someone they knew.

Almost one-third of those under 35 said recommendation was the most important factor in their book choice.

Only loyalty came close: 26% said that they chose a book because they were familiar with and liked the author.

Despite publishers and booksellers spending an estimated $133 million to $190 million annually on marketing and promotion, only 6% cited advertising as the deciding factor.

This doesn't surprise me in the least: the publishing business is completely out to lunch in its business methods and tactics.

First and foremost would be the amazingly brain-dead practice of distributing copies for review, yet not having the books in stores for potential buyers who decide on the basis of a great review to purchase the book. But I digress.

Cover design was the key for 7%, although 16% said the jacket description influenced them to read the book.

11% said a review led them to a book, and 4% said a film or TV adaptation prompted their choice.

Top 10 word-of-mouth best-sellers since 1997, and UK sales to date:

1. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2,211,532)
2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon (1,537,656)
3. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (1,301,876)
4. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernières (1,292,698)
5. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss (944,982)
6. No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith (908,362)
7. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks (850,790)
8. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden (676,492)
9. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (645,447)
10. Schott's Original Miscellany, Ben Schott (639,636)

[via Paul Owen and The Guardian]

March 26, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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