Monday, April 30, 2007

What Kinds of Books Would You Not Read?

An East Midlands library recently asked their patrons to complete a survey on reading choices. Of those who responded, 26% were male, 55% were female, and 19% chose to remain incognito. Their responses are very interesting.

When asked what type of books they usually borrowed from the library, the responses were: 43.2% crime fiction, 29.6% family sagas, 26.4% literary fiction, 25.3% romances, 24.1% war/spy/adventure, 19% science fiction/fantasy, 8.6% chick lit, and 4.2% lad lit, with negligible responses for gay/lesbian fiction, black British fiction, and Asian fiction. These results were not broken down by gender in the report I read.

Now this part is particularly interesting. When asked if there were any types of book they would NOT read, 47% of the women and 32.9% of the men said they would not read science fiction or fantasy, while 31.1% of the women as opposed to only 9.9% of the men said they would never read war/spy/adventure stories.

62% of the men vs. 25.2% of the women said they would not read romances (does this mean that 38% of the men would read romances?) while 34.6% of the men vs. 9.8% of the women said they wouldn’t read family sagas.

Both men and women were likely to read crime fiction and literary fiction. Nearly equal numbers—only 13% of the men and 13.6% of the women—said they would not read literary fiction. And only 13.9% of the men and 15.6% of the women said they wouldn’t read crime fiction.

But women were slightly more likely than men to read gay/lesbian fiction, black British fiction, and Asian fiction: 53.8% of the men vs. 43.5% of the women said they would not consider reading Asian fiction; 73.6% of the men vs. 61.8% of the women said they wouldn’t read gay/lesbian fiction; and 37.8% of the men and 30.3% of the women said they wouldn’t read black British fiction.

Here’s a rather unexpected result: 54.5% of the men and 27.3% of the women said they would not read chick lit (in other words, 45.5% of the men would read chick lit). And nearly equal numbers—31.9% of the men and 30.1% of the women—said they wouldn’t read lad lit. In other words, women would be slightly more likely to read lad lit than the lads. So why is it called lad lit?

It would be interesting to know the ages of these library borrowers: are we talking little old ladies and tottering male pensioners? Teenagers? A mixture? Are the tastes of book borrowers different from the tastes of book buyers? And why aren’t more people asking these kinds of questions?

And if you’re interested in what types of books I would not consider reading: if I heard a book was outstanding, I’d read it no matter what its category. But for the most part I’d be highly unlikely to read gay/lesbian fiction, black British fiction, family sagas, or lad lit. I also don’t read much science fiction/fantasy, romance, or chick lit. Which makes me realize my reading choices are fairly narrow—literary fiction, crime fiction, and war/spy/adventure stories. That said, I’ve just started rereading Georgette Heyer’s FARO’S DAUGHTER and I’m having a great time…

These results are from the Library and Information Update, November 2003.

5 comments:

Sisker said...

Would you post the original link to the East Midlands survey? As a writer, a reader, and most importantly in this case, a member of a small town library board, I'd love to see the survey and consider how we might adapt it to our library.

Thanks,
Kay Sisk

Charles Gramlich said...

I couldn't think of any genre that I absolutely wouldn't read. My least likely choices are romance, chick lit, and gay/lesbian, but I've read some from each of these categories.

Sphinx Ink said...

Ah, FARO'S DAUGHTER--that was the second Georgette Heyer book I ever read, and I still love it. (My first was THE TOLL GATE, which hooked me into her writing.) Hurray for Heyer.

As for reading preferences, I am most likely to read romance (historical and contemporary), mystery/suspense/thriller, crime, SF/fantasy (I love the new wave of dark urban fantasy novels--e.g., Jim Butcher's Dresden Files). I occasionally read chick lit and war/spy/adventure. As for lad lit, I have never read any, but am not averse to trying it.

I am least likely to read literary fiction, gay/lesbian fiction, family sagas, and contemporary black/Asian fiction. (Re the last, however, I enjoy reading historical black/Asian fiction.)

Farrah Rochon said...

I'd love some insight into the demographic make up of the survey participants, as well.

As for what I absolutely would not read? Nothing. I tend to read more romance than anything else these days, but I'm open to reading all types of fiction and non-fiction. If it catches my fancy, I'll give it a try. :)

liz fenwick said...

I think I am least likely to read gay/lesbian fiction but otherwise anything goes....interesting survey though.