Monday, June 13, 2011

Liz's Lair: Who's Buying All the Mysteries?



One of the chapters I belong to, the Sisters in Crime, commissioned a 47 page study on the book selection habits of the mystery book buyer. Here's what they found:

The study, titled “The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age, is the first of its kind to provide an overview of the mystery/crime fiction book-buying landscape, with information on who buys mysteries, where they buy them, what they buy and why they make their mystery book purchases. The research is based on publishing industry data gathered and interpreted by the PubTrack book sales analysis division of Bowker – a unit that specializes in business intelligence for publishers, retailers and authors – with input from a Sisters in Crime survey team.”

Now that got my interest right away. Off the top of my head, I would say the average mystery reader is female, fortyish and older, and loves the female sleuth genre more than the police procedurals or the thrillers. Men, on the other hand, are just the opposite, heading for the cop books and the International thrillers. Me, I love them all. Show me a book where someone dies and I have to figure out who and why, and I'm all over it. Anyway, I found some of these demographics rather interesting and want to thank the great SinC chapter for doing this. Here are the results.

Most of the mystery readers are women, usually over the age of 45, making up 68 percent of all mystery sales. Younger readers aged 18 to 44 represent another 31 percent of the mysteries sold. (So who's buying that last 1 %???)

Another interesting fact is that 48% of all mystery buyers live in suburban areas, while 27 percent reside in rural areas with the remaining 25 percent coming from urban areas.

35% of all mysteries are purchased by southerners while 26% more live in the West, 20% in the Midwest, and 19% are North easterners.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Most mysteries (39%) are purchased through brick and mortar books stores. I wonder if that's changed since the downsizing of Borders. Anyway, another 19% are borrowed from libraries, and the final 17% are purchased on line. This is another thing I wonder about with the emergence of the Nooks and Kindles and Ipads of the world. Even when this study was done, online purchases of mysteries topped all the other genre sales.

Which brings me to an observation. According to this study, most mysteries are being read by Southern suburban women over 45. Guess when you reach that age, the hormones are going wild and the Georgia peaches really want to see someone take it in the back of the head…preferably a two-timing man!!


Actually, the southern belles aren't the only ones who like a good revenge killing in their books every now and again...fanning myself!!

Okay, let's hear it. What are some of your favorite mysteries and why? One lucky commenter will receive an autographed copy of LIVER LET DIE in October when it's released.

32 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great post, Liz!

I really like a good crime of passion by a local. Killing for greed or revenge, especially by an outsider, can be fun and unexpected. But a good old fashion crime of passion gets everyone all worked up!

Interesting stats. Gotta watch those southern belles :-)

Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: Great information and posting. I read all over the place-- Michael Connelly, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Lisa Gardner, and more more more. But, I think what draws me in are the characters. I love the suspense and mystery, but I have to relate to the characters. Russ and Clare just got engaged in the current Spencer-Fleming book (sorry if I'm wrecking this for folks who aren't up to speed) and I found myself on an airline speaking out loud to encourage them (my husband did ask that I keep it down).

I confess I fit the demographics you offer- a bit over 50, female, living in a suburban area but using my e-reader a lot.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, who doesn't love a crime of passion. I'm reminded of the old joke of a woman with a gun that read, "I'm PMS and I have a gun!" With that in mind I found a new picture. Check it out.

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, I've never read Spenser-Fleming, but I will give her a look.

And you are so right about relating to the characters. I am drawn to heroines and heroes who have a great sense of humor and don;t take themselves so seriously. I love it when they laugh at themselves for being stupid about something.

And then in the next scene, they do something brilliant.

Donna Cummings said...

Liz, thanks for sharing that -- that is really interesting info. I'll also make sure to be extra special nice to the Southern belles over the age of 45. Now that I know they've got murder on their mind. :)

Edie Ramer said...

Interesting figures. As an indie author, I think a lot of the ebook buying information never gets on those surveys. That they get their statistical information from the publishers or bookstores instead of, say, Amazon.

I do like cozies. I enjoy anything that combines humor with evocative moments, and will keep me guessing. And, of course, makes me care about the hero/heroine.

Lady Jane Garner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lara said...

Hey Liz!
I loved Presumed Innocent. The surprise ending was awesome. And the novel, Rebecca, was a great mystery in my mind. I love that book! Lara

Lindsay said...

Interesting statistics and thanks for posting them. I am glad that I don't fit the demographics in the survey. As for who I read-no author in particular as long as the characters seem real.

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Liz, wonderful post!

I have many favorites. Sofia Littlefield's series starting with "A Bad Day for Sorry" is a must read. The heroine is 50, and helping other woman take care of their abusive partners. Another is Harlan Coben. He cracks me up. And then Dana Stabenow. She does an awesome series set in Alaska about Kate Shugak, set in Alaska. There's nothing like it.

But other than age, I don't seem to fit the demo, at least, when it comes to the part of the country. Northerners love mysteries too.

Marilyn said...

The other 1% are under 18, Liz. My favorite author when I was eleven was Agatha Christie. I had never heard her name spoken, so I pronounced it a-gay'-thuh. Christie I pronounced correctly. I loved the puzzle of figuring out a mystery. I remember going to see a couple of her mysteries performed by local community drama.

M

Liz Lipperman said...

Hee hee, Donna. Don't forget I'm a southern belle...well sorta!!

I find it fascinating when they break things down like this. It makes me wonder why Southern older women go for the mysteries.

Liz Lipperman said...

Edie I think you're right about the online books not making it entirely into this survey. They have become so popular in today's publishing world.

I love cozies, too, but I also love straight mysteries with their multiple POVs.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lara, I loved Presumed Innocent, too. His other books never quite lived up to that one.

As for Rebecca, I'll have to go back and reread that one as I can't remember it.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, I have never seen you with such a short comment. And your're right..no matter what genre you're reading/writing, the characters have to be larger than life.

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Tiff, I met Ms. Littlefield one year and got a signed copy of that book. I just haven't found time to read it yet. Maybe it should go on my next trip...this Friday!!

Hubby just finished a Harlan Coben book and loved it. He isn't a big reader, so that's a great endorsement. And I'll have to check out Dana's books.

Liz Lipperman said...

Marilyn...duh!! I should have figured that one out myself.

And I love Agatha Christie, too. As far as I'm concerned she is the queen of whodunnits.

Lindsay said...

Liz, sorry for the short response. I spent the weekend doing edits on rough draft of a chapter for the Target sequel. Brains kind of mushy. And no comment about my brain.

VICKI BATMAN said...

Hi, sweetie. I read lots of thrillers and mysteries. My ALLTIME FAVORITE is Dick Francis. Add Elizabeth George, Tess Gerrittsen, wacky and wild Janet, P.D. James.

I've always read mysteries, beginning with Nancy and moving to Trixie Belden.

Anita Clenney said...

Great info Liz. I've always loved mysteries. My favorites are the Aelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters, the Crispin Guest series by Jeri Westerson, and I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I guess that's a mystery. I love ghostly mysteries and paranormal things. And cozies. I used to read a mystery series about a tour guide but now I can't remember her name. I love romantic suspense which has a lot of mystery.

By the way. I'm from Virginia and over 45. So you'd better be nice to me. :)

Anita Clenney said...

Oh I just saw Tiffinie's comment. I LOVE Harlan Coben. He's a fantastic mystery writer. And I love the Sherlock Holmes books.

Mary Marvella said...

Speaking of numbers, (grin) I read almost anything, but I really enjoy Sophie and Janet and writers with irreverent humor. I read the classics before some of them were classics.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mushy brains? Who can resist that one?????

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Vicki, I forgot about Dick Francis. And I'm one of those folks that loves JA Konrath and his sick humor. I still laugh when I think about one of his scenes.

Let me throw Karen Robards and Karen Rose into the mix with RS.

Oh gosh, so many good ones...too little time.

Liz Lipperman said...

And see, Anita, you're my favorite kind of killer...a southern soft-spoken beauty who smiles as she pulls the trigger.

I love all your choices.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ah, we hear from my favorite Georgia peach. Mary, what classics are you referring to?

My lifelong dream is to read a blog in the future and have someone list me as one of their favorites.

Lindsay said...

Don't you know it's not nice to pick on mushy brained people.

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi,

Another Agatha fan here! I'm a big mystery reader, but Agatha really wows me every time, even when I re-read one of her books. The ABC Murders. Murder on the Orient Express. I could give you a list.

Liz - great post, and thanks for sharing the demographics. I don't think they've changed much in quite a while, which really says something about the loyal readership.

Barbara

Donnell said...

Liz, I'm checking in late. Seriously? I have to answer this. I have so many. At the risk of leaving someone out, I'll just say the numbers are impressive, and I know firsthand who's reading all those books. My friend Jean Willett in Georgia, reads I think about a book a minute! Thanks for keeping us up on the industry. DQing myself from Liver Let Die.... I plan to buy it. I know the author....

Liz Lipperman said...

Barbara, I love Christie also. For cozies, I am crazy about Cleo Coyle, Linda O. Johnson, Misa Ramirez and many many others.

And loyal readership really is what keeps us all in the business.

Liz Lipperman said...

Donnell, I wish I read like your Georgia friend. It seems like ever since I really started writing seriously, my reading went downhill fast. I'm fixing to go on vacation for two weeks and I hope to catch up.

Have fun at the conference.

Liz Lipperman said...

And the winner of the autographed copy of LIVER LET DIE is Marilyn.

Congrats. I'll get with you on a snail mail address. Thanks for playing, everyone.