Posted on July 12, 2021 at 10:46 AM by Guest Author

Do you want to expand your reader base? Then it’s worth looking at recent book reader demographics. Discover who’s been reading the most over the past year. 

Table of Contents 

Why Should You Look at Recent Book Reader Demographics?

As an author, you know how important it is to research your intended audience. Failing to learn about the people most likely to read your book is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

When you start to promote your book, you end up trying to target everyone and reaching no one. It leads to a lot of wasted time, money, and effort.

That’s why you need to narrow your focus, looking for the best opportunities based on book reader demographics and more. 

Although this is something you should put into practice with each book you write, it’s especially important to keep in mind right now.

Specifically, it’s worth looking at recent book reader demographics if you have a new book you want to promote. 


Because doing so can provide some valuable insight into...

  • Who’s been reading the most books

  • What types of books they’ve been reading

  • What format they’ve been reading in

  • How they’ve been finding books

It’s no surprise to learn that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the book industry over the past year.

But what may surprise you is that sales of both print books and ebooks increased — and continue to do so. In fact, print book sales rose 29% in Q1 of 2021, while ebook sales shot up 19.8% in February of this year. 

This just shows that books remain in high demand among readers, with certain groups purchasing and downloading more than others. And authors can benefit by targeting those who have helped the book industry thrive. 

What Does the Research Show? 

Now that you understand why it’s worth looking at book reader demographics collected over the past year, it’s time to dive into the data.

One particularly revealing piece of research published earlier this year was the Immersive Media & Books 2020 report, authored by Dr. Rachel Noorda and Dr. Kathi Inman Berens from Portland State University.

The study examined consumer attitudes toward media and books across various ages, races, and locales in the U.S.

Additionally, it includes information about book engagement — how people are discovering books, where they’re getting them, and more.    

Here are some of the most notable findings from the study...

Book Reader Demographics
  • Avid book engagers (i.e., those who read more than 4 books per month) are younger and more ethnically diverse than the general survey population. 

  • Millennials engage with books more than Gen X and baby boomers. 

  • On average, millennials engage with 3.1 ebooks, 3.1 audiobooks, and 5.3 print books per month.

  • Black, Latinx, and male millennials engage with books the most. 

  • Latinx readers bought more books during the pandemic than other groups. 

  • Those in the Southwest engaged with ebooks at a higher rate than other regions over the past year. 

  • Westerners purchased ebooks at a higher rate during COVID-19 than residents in other regions.

Book Reader Behaviors
  • Readers of audiobooks and ebooks are multitasking (70% for audiobooks and 61% for ebooks).

  • Roughly 40% of survey responses indicated posting an online review or recommendation for a book.

  • The main reason people engage with books is for entertainment. 

Book Reader Preferences
  • The most important factors for book buying are genre, author, and reviews — in that order.

  • 20.8% of survey respondents found books via recommendations from friends. 

  • In terms of genre engagement within adult fiction, mystery was ranked highest among respondents at 42.2%.

  • More than 10% of respondents stated they find books through ebook discount programs. 

There’s a lot to be gained from reviewing these findings, particularly if you’re been basing your reader targeting on false assumptions.    

How Can You Use This Information to Your Advantage? 

Examining recent reader demographics and other data is just the first step. After all, the research above won’t do much to help in promoting your book if you don’t apply it.

The good news is we’ve provided some best practices below for using this information to your advantage. 

Here’s what to do...

1. Tailor your messaging accordingly. 

To target a specific group of people based on the book reader demographics above, it’s important to tailor your messaging accordingly. The way you describe and promote your book should resonate with those you want to read it.

So, take the time to dig deep into your target audience. That way, you can craft social media posts, descriptions, ads, and other assets that grab their attention.  

  • Use the same language they do.  

  • Connect your book to events or issues they care about. 

  • Show how your book can provide value. 

2. Consider making your book available through other retailers. 

Another thing to consider is whether you should make your book available through other retailers based on reader preferences and locale.

The report mentioned above provides some insight into how and where avid readers shop. If you want a certain group to purchase your book, you should make the process as convenient and familiar as possible.     

Take ebooks, for example. Does the segment you’re targeting prefer ebooks that are available through Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or Google Play?

Depending on what you find, it may be worth running a 6-month experiment in which you add your book to another platform.  

3. Be where these readers are online.

Armed with helpful book reader demographics, you can then make sure you’re where readers are online. Knowing where your target audience spends their time increases the likelihood of you and your work being seen.    

For instance, if you want to target millennials — as research shows they engage with books more than any other age group — you need to have a solid presence on social media channels such as...

  • Facebook

  • YouTube

  • Instagram

...since these are popular platforms among millennials.   

Bonus Tip: As the data shows that many avid readers find books through ebook discount programs, it’s wise to be there as well. With a list of more than 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian’s ebook newsletter is a great place to promote a giveaway. Doing so can help you get your free ebook in front of more potential fans! 

4. Reach out to popular influencers in this space.

Knowing demographics and other information about the readers you want to target also makes it easier to form valuable connections.

Learn which influencers and book bloggers your target audience follows. Then, reach out to these individuals to see whether they’d be willing to read and review your book on their channel.   

Just make sure to follow best practices for contacting bloggers.   

5. Target these readers when running paid ads. 

If part of your marketing plan involves running paid ads on Google, Facebook, Amazon, or elsewhere, the book reader demographics highlighted above will come in handy too.

With Facebook and Google, for example, you can specify the people you want to see your ads based on...

  • Location

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Education

  • And more

With Amazon, however, it may be worth doing some additional research into your target audience so that you can choose the appropriate keywords.

Look at other authors and titles your audience has demonstrated an interest in that are relevant to you and your book.

Also, do some digging into what phrases your audience uses to describe the book or what they’re looking for. 


There’s a lot to learn from book reader demographics and other information compiled over the past year.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the book industry has not only survived but thrived. And it’s due in large part to specific groups of avid readers.

So, if you have a book to promote, use these insights to your advantage and narrow your focus to target the right readers in the right places with the right messaging. 

(Need help getting your book in front of avid readers? Offer it for free and schedule a promotion in our free-ebook newsletter!) 

Categories: Behind the scenes

You forget tiktok and booktok. You also forgot Gen Z readers, who are more prolific on that platform. With direct impact on book sales in bookshops (yet only 50% publishers are on it and still assume only white people read. Surprise surprise). I'm a POC and I spelled out how much effort I went through to get arc and beta readers to read my book about bias and bullying in a children's book. I got a lot of praise for my writing and story from readers. Unfortunately. The reality is that the lack of diversity in publishing and gatekeeper - sorry, agents - means they continue to falsely assume who the reader is. my taking steps to actively engage and connect with the BookTok community and readers in my target demo (who do get the story...unlike the white middle class agents) should indicate there is a market for it and I have taken steps to connect with said market. Moral of the story: you can write a book with crass vulgar language and become a hit seller as long as you're white like Colleen Hoover and Sarah J Maas. You can write a book about a black character and become agented and have a publisher with zero black people in their company think publishing that during black history month is a brilliant sales idea and not going to invite cancel culture or damage their reputation, ruin the author's credibility and fuck the agent's career. 🤔🤨 Not worth shit if you're black or Asian - because Ofakoro. Kuang, Woodson, Tasha Suri, Shafak and Bulawayo of course could not possibly have won any book awards because they are not white 😒🙄🙄🙄🙄 (sarcasm. All booker award, fantasy award, costa award winners). it becomes exhausting. Trying to do the job these people ought to be doing, but their ego has convinced them that they know who their readers are and are not. Social media is a free marketing tool, use it like I am. No wonder more writers turn to self publishing, especially BAME and LGBT writers. No racism or gatekeeping there at least - look at Scott Stuart. Could never secure an agent for a book discussing inclusion. He self published. Now sold millions of copies. Ego, bias, and racism. Eventually, publishers and agents won't exist anymore because writers can build and grow a following and connect to readers directly. It pisses me off how rigged the system is in the first place. They may as well have an apartheid sign outside as a point of entry.
S | 9/27/23 at 10:10 AM
Was wondering how to profile readers (gender/ age group) for specific fiction genres (eg thrillers).
Rob Scriven | 6/25/23 at 3:44 AM
I probably differ from most literary fiction authors since by college degrees are in engineering and business administration. In engineering management capacity I completed studies in Statistical Process Control under Dr. Edward Deming and in my business capacity I learned about marketing related to demographics. I can much appreciate this article but I know that many literary fiction authors might not fully see the value.
H. Melvin James | 1/21/23 at 3:17 PM
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