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Book Clubs by The Numbers

Have you ever wondered how many women are in book clubs, how many books they read and what they read?

Here are answers to these and many other book club questions!

Click here for a printer-friendly 4-page PDF.

Update: In July 2015 BookBrowse published a white paper, "Book Clubs in the USA" which updates and significantly expands on the infographic below. You can download a free copy of the whitepaper at bookbrowse.com/wp

Book Clubs by The Numbers

Questions Answered
1. How many women are in book clubs?
2. How many women are in book clubs by age?
3. What percentage of book clubs meet in person compared with online?
4. How many members does the average book club have?
5. How many books do book clubs read in a year?
6. How far ahead do book clubs plan their reading?
7. What percentage of book club members influence what their book club reads?
8. What genres of books do book clubs read?
9. What percentage of book clubs say they must have a reading guide?
10. How has book club membership changed over time - trend data from 2004 - 2012?

Methodology in Brief: Questions 1-9 are based on a subset of data from our 2012 survey of 4043 visitors to BookBrowse who responded in a 10 day time frame. Out of these, 2650 were USA women aged 35 who claimed to read at least one book a month. Question 10 is based on similar surveys conducted since 2004.

The respondents are made up of regular visitors to BookBrowse, occasional visitors and first time visitors. The numbers are sufficiently robust that we can look at these different groups within the larger sample to check for biases. No significant differences were found between the responses of these different groups to book club related questions. So while the sample is limited to BookBrowse visitors it should also reflect, within a reasonable degree of confidence, the larger group as a whole (USA women aged 35+ who read at least one book each month, and are also online).

I was pleased to read your book club information. I, too, belong to one and there are 9 of us, 2 of which are of the opposite sex.
We are an eclectic group ranging from 30 to 70, teachers, blue collar workers, administrative assistants, homemakers. Are we unique? Do men not join book clubs?
# Posted By Carol | 3/26/14 10:12 AM
Hi Carol,

Very good question! Absolutely men are in book clubs but I didn't feel that the numbers we had responding to the survey were sufficient for robust reporting of results so felt it best to focus just on the women. I have no empirical data on this but, based on years of interviewing book clubs (you can read these in our book club section) I get the impression that while some groups are all women and actively want to stay that way, others are open to having men - just haven't had any join, while others are happily mixed.

Then there are some all male book clubs - we've interviewed a few over the years - but they may not take a form of the "traditional" group sitting in the living room. For example, a friend's father has commuted the same route for many years and gets together on the train with a bunch of friends and they talk books. From what I was told it sounded like the discussion was pretty structured - agreeing books, discussing them - but when I suggested to my friend that it would be great to interview her father she said that she didn't think that would be a good idea as she didn't think that he really thought of it as a club as such!

Continuing on this train of thought - a considerable number of people, both men and women, belong to non traditional groups. In the survey we asked those who said they belonged to a book club that did not meet in person how their group met.

The answers were fascinating - ranging from people meeting online in clubs that in essence mimic a traditional club - such as BookBrowse's book club - to people who were very active in sites such as paperback book swaps - to people who chat with their family regularly about books. Although some of these felt to me to be stretching the definition of a book club too far for the purposes of reporting stats in the infographic (and thus were excluded) the point is that the people involved were talking about books regularly in a environment in which they felt they belonged - which sounds pretty much like a book club to me!

Very best

Davina (BB Editor)
# Posted By Davina (BB Editor) | 3/26/14 10:53 AM
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