What Kind of Reader Are You?


Reading seems like a solitary activity. You don’t usually pay attention to how other people approach reading, except perhaps for family members when you’re waiting for them to finish a book you want to read.

Authors and publishers, however, are keenly interested in how readers go about their reading, because it holds the key to the future of the industry.

Magic 8 ball

Think about how consumer behavior changed movies. Used to be, everyone saw movies at the theater. Then, TV began running movies several years after their theatrical release, albeit with commercials and edits. VHS made it possible to watch movies whenever you wanted them. TiVo and VHS recording changed how we watched TV, too. Then came movie rental stores, which gave way to RedBox and Netflix. Now it’s not only possible to pretty much watch what you want when you want, but ‘binge watching’ is the new normal.

The music industry had its own shake-up, with albums giving way to CDs and then Napster, followed by iPods and iTunes. Radio went from broadcast to satellite to Sirius to Pandora and Spotify, or just skip it and plug in your iPod.

When consumers change how they consume a product–whether it’s cereal, music, movies or books–it creates big ripples through the industry that produces the product, and has real-life implications for the product creators.

Hence, my survey. I put together a 9 question survey to try to find out how readers (or at least my readers) consume books. Paper or pixel? Do you buy or borrow, or grab freebies? Where do you get your books? How do you pick new books and authors? How many books do you read? How many do you pay for? Do you like having extra content (think short stories and novellas that add on to book series)? Do you binge-read? What about new series–do you buy the books as they come out, or wait for the series to finish and buy them all?  Do you want to ‘starve’ between books in a series or nibble on short stories until the next book comes out?

The answers matter. For example, binge-readers who wait to buy a series until it’s completed are playing with fire, because if the first books don’t sell well, future books may be cancelled or series might not be extended. (Note–when you read the books is up to you. Just do your favorite authors a favor and buy the books when they come out, the closer to launch date the better for purposes of sales tracking.)  On the other hand, if binge-readers plow through all the available books in one fell swoop, having extra short stories and novellas might be popular to tide them over to the next book. Publishers don’t know whether having extra stories available over-saturates the market, or keeps readers engaged and connected for the next book. And if too large a percentage of readers only consume books from libraries, borrowing from friends and buying at used book stores, neither publishers nor authors have much chance to earn a living.

My survey isn’t likely to be large enough to be statistically significant for the whole industry, but I figure a snapshot of the reading preferences of the readers I touch via social media is still more than I had before.

So…if you’re interested, why not take the survey here . I’m even offering a prize drawing if you fill in your email address and sign up for my newsletter in question 10. Once I get 100 responses, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.

Oh, and since I’m betting on readers being extra-content friendly, the newest additions for your binge-reading pleasure are Cold Fury in the Blaine McFadden King’s Convicts series and Grave Voices in the steampunk Storm and Fury Adventures.

And if you want to pull out your crystal balls (or your Magic 8 balls) and predict what the trends will be, I’d love to see your ideas in the comments!

Cold FuryGrave Voices V2


6 comments to What Kind of Reader Are You?

  • Andrea

    Just completed the survey, Gail 😀
    Although I replied there that I read both paper books and digital books, most of the time I read paper books. Sometimes, though, a book is only available in a digital format, and sometimes – I’ll be honest – the paper edition is much more expensive and then I may decide to go for the digital book. I also like the option on f.i. Amazon where you can read a free Kindle excerpt to see if you would like to read the book. If I then decide to buy the book, I usually choose the paper version. I like to be able to flip backward and – yes, guilty! – sometimes forward, and I like to see how many pages until the next chapter, or until the end of the book.
    Sometimes, I like to take a book I’ve already read, open it at random, and let it take me back for a while. For the sake of the environment (and the space in my apartment) I wish liked reading digitally more.

    I don’t often binge-read, but with some series I have. And sometimes, I binge-reread, especially when a new book in the series is due.
    Of some series I buy the next book, even if I haven’t read the previous yet. You see, Gail, I do get it. But here’s another thing: I love those nice box sets. And they don’t come out until the last book has been published. Quite a dilemma.

    As to short stories and novellas, yes please! I love those little books in between, and I especially like them with extras like backstory about the series’ world or author interviews.

    My crystal ball is out for servicing 😉 I really have no idea where the reading trends are leading. Probably more digital.
    I hope at least some of this is useful to you.

  • Hi Andrea! Thanks for filling out the survey. I totally understand what you’re saying about physical books–it’s hard to do that with the ereaders. I like my Kindle on a plane or on a trip so I don’t have to carry heavy, bulky books, but otherwise I still enjoy paper books myself. I’ve binge-read some series when I’ve discovered them late in the game and want to get caught up. Then I’m really sad when I do get caught up because either the series is over or I have to wait a whole year. Which is why I like the extra short stories as a reader myself. Backstory is fun! Thanks for the comment!

  • Andrea

    You’re welcome, Gail.
    As to series being over, imagine only discovering Harry Potter after book 7 came out…
    It’s great that people (young and old) are still discovering and reading the series, but I had such a great time, rereading the books, theorizing together with other fans about what might happen in the next book, etc. There hasn’t been anything like it for me since (well, has there been for anyone? ;-)), but I’m glad I was part of it.
    Good luck with your research.

  • Razziecat

    I read both ebooks and print books. I’ve been around awhile and grew up with print, and I love the smell and feel of a new book. With a couple of favorite authors, I always buy the print version; with others that I discovered after getting my Kindle, I buy the ebooks. I’ve also bought the Kindle versions of some books that I’ve owned in print for years, just so I can always find the book when I want to re-read it. I read new books as they come out because I don’t have the patience to wait until a whole series is out. 😉 That’s why I LOVE when authors put out the occasional short story or novella in between novels!

    I do search my local library occasionally but they don’t buy as many books as they used to 🙁 so I tend to buy mostly online; when possible I borrow ebooks from the library, too. If I love a borrowed book, I always buy a copy and start watching for new stuff from that author. I also forage in a locally-owned independent bookstore, and in second-hand bookstores. You never know where you might find that next favorite author!

  • Hi Razziecat–You’re the kind of reader all authors love! Thank you! I agree that library budget cuts suck. They hurt readers and authors, and it’s especially annoying when the library drops a series in the middle! And it does my heart good to hear you say you like between-book short fiction. Thanks!