As we near the end of 2022, let’s reflect on the data regarding readers that emerged this year from studies done in 2021 in advance of the data we’re sure to see emerge from 2022 early next year!

For all you authors interested in numbers – statistics especially – we at KWL wanted to highlight a great resource, especially for those of you based in Canada or are interested in increasing your presence on the Canadian market: BookNet Canada is a valuable resource for booksellers (and indie authors, who are also booksellers, of course), as they frequently publish findings on readerships across the country.

Publishing news outlets like Publisher’s Weekly often highlight the importance of readership surveys as related to the traditional publishing industry, but how can you, as an indie author, benefit from this knowledge, too?

By learning! Being aware of and learning more about how readers discover books, where they look for books, and what they are looking for in a book extremely helpful to know when tailoring your marketing and advertising campaigns.

For 2021, the three most popular ways of discovery books were:

  1. word of mouth (36%)
  2. bookstores (27%)
  3. libraries (25%)

“Word of mouth” encompasses a lot, and doesn’t necessarily mean a reader is hearing about a book from friends, family, or a local book club. Nowadays, word of mouth can mean that readers are discovery books through Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms where active users and influencers regularly talk about and review the books they read. With large, chain bookstores like Indigo in Canada and Barnes & Noble in the USA dedicated space on their shelves to books popular on #BookTok, the giants in the industry have definitely caught on!

You as an indie author can utilize your social media platforms to garner readership, too. Check out our podcast episode on selling more using TikTok.           

However, the survey reported that podcasts are on the rise in terms of book discovery and recommendation: from 5% in 2019 and 2020, to 8% in 2021. While these numbers can’t necessarily compare to the 36% of readers who discover books through word of mouth, a 3% rise year-over-year is a trend that is projected to continue.

Reaching out to a podcast host to pitch an interview, or even advertising on a podcast about books and reading, can be a great way to boost interest in your books. Consider what podcasts you listen to and whether your titles would benefit from a featured ad, or if you could garner a potential interview. If you listen to book review or recommended reads podcasts, reach out and see if they would be interested in adding your book on the pile!

Another important to note is that eBook purchasing (over borrowing) was up 5% from 2020, from 44% to 49% in 2021. Avid readers are often avid book collectors, and that collection translates to a digital space, too.

Likewise, 78% of survey participants also stated they felt they received good value for their money when purchasing eBooks, not far behind print books at 81%. 

Of the participants, it was also found that the 18- to 29-year-old age group was the most likely to favour eBooks, but “they also had a high “No preference” percentage.”

We encourage you to look at the full survey, which is free to download and available here.

Let’s see what 2022’s readership survey shows us next year!

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