Who Are You Now? Survey Results.

Who are you now? Survey results, April 2017

The survey was on my website, reinforced by a pointer in the Hodders email newsletter. 81 people kindly sent in forms, several of which were for couples. More women than men filled them in.

I recognised some names from last time though quite a few people said they didn’t think they had done it before. That included some I recognised!

The age range was predominantly 50s and 60s, extending each way into 40s and 70’s with a few younger or older and one shy man who claimed he was too old to say. In the last survey ten years ago it was more like 30s to 60s, so either my readers are all getting older along with me, or young people just don’t look on websites and fill in surveys as they are too busy twittering. I know for sure that the young people in families are often as keen as their elders (though of course they often read their elders’ copies). Older people get sick of surveys, but a couple generously said they would do this one because it was to help me.

Geographically most responses were from the UK and USA, with a few from Canada and Australia and a few from Europe. To some extent that must be because the people who look on my website are English-speaking. Again, I know for sure I have a big Spanish readership (for instance) but none are represented here.

The range of occupations was as wide as last time. I was disappointed to have no monks, prison guards, beekeepers or retired belly-dancers, but I liked ‘call centre monkey’ and ‘auction receptionist’. Of course there were a lot of teachers, people in administrative jobs, librarians, and people in media or the voluntary sector, but I was proud to have a goodly number of people in engineering, chemistry, maths, tax and finance (especially given how rude my protagonists can be…) History and archaeology featured as would be expected. One surgeon and one barrister, one in ‘law enforcement’.

Over a quarter said they are retired, with a few muttering ‘semi-retired’. There are some homemakers, with others who just count running the home as one of many activities. A lot of you are juggling a variety of things.

The biggest surprise came with the new question about which editions people read. I suspect some of this will be news to the publishing industry. It is too complicated to make a chart – with an extra complication that so many readers have been faithful for thirty years now, and have changed their habits along the way. So here are just some intriguing points:

  • A large number couldn’t give a definitive answer but had a very mixed reading history
  • More than a quarter mentioned libraries, which is a lot, given how libraries are struggling financially.
  • Previously, a big proportion read the hardback in the library while waiting to buy the cheaper paperback. This has definitely changed and now more will buy the ebook instead
  • Some of my readers have turned to the hardback though, because they can’t wait
  • A surprising number didn’t care, but would buy whichever edition came their way (I liked the people who at one point had owned 6 copies of The Silver Pigs)
  • Quite a lot of you are downsizing your book shelves for space reasons so turned to ebooks or audio
  • those with arthritis like paperbacks because they are lighter
  • those with sight problems like digital because you can make the font larger
  • E-books have not taken over the world as we were once told would happen. Some of you really like them, some find them convenient when travelling, but others still don’t have a reader, or actively dislike it. Downloads are just one more platform, which adds to the variety available.
  • Quite a few mentioned the BBC drama serials and will listen more than once

But what is most encouraging is that you are still keenly reading. How you do it changes, but not the fact of doing it.

Finally, you give and get books as presents – but with mine at least, you very rarely lend them out! Some copies are read more than once by different people, many copies are re-read (which is very pleasing, thank you).