Friday, June 13, 2008

Book buying on the party line

The Reading and Book Buying Habits of Americans, a new Zogby International poll commissioned by Random House, has some interesting information. It was an online poll of 8218 people.

The fact that more people would curl up with a book than light up a Kindle is no surprise: Most readers are older -- pre-computer generation -- and as a boomer I know my habits are fixed. Besides, those crazy kids like to tool around the Internet with their YouTubes and IMs and play computer games. Us golden oldens are more inclined to opt for paper reading.

However, there's some interesting political information in the report.

According to Zogby, Democrats and independents were more likely to buy books at independent stores while Republicans liked chain stores. What could this mean? Well, we could determine that Democrats and independents support the little guy while Republicans prefer big business. We could infer that tax-and-spend Democrats like to spend and be taxed more for books while Republicans like the discounts at Sam's Club. Or we could assume that the majority of Republicans responding to the poll questions live in areas where malls and chains dominate and that Democrats and independents responding have little access to chain stores.

Democrats, again according to Zogby, like to visit bookstores and linger while independents and Republicans don't like to hang out. Democrats are more likely to be influenced in buying a book after reading a review while Republicans are more likely than Democrats to be influenced by talk radio. More than half of all respondents judge a book by its cover and 89 percent say that if they like a book they will seek out other books by the same author (Both bits of information are of no surprise).

Finally, Democrats are more likely than independents or Republicans to buy a book they see on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And overall, more respondents were likely to buy a book they saw on Stewart's show than on Oprah's? Does this mean that Stewart sells more books or does it mean that the respondents were more likely to watch Stewart than to watch Oprah?

Next time Zogby throws a book poll, I'd like more background numbers, please.

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