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March 26, 2005

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

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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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