Teen Book Market in Flux

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This is the third in a series of four articles looking at the results of the recently released 2002 Consumer Research Study on Book Purchasing, conducted by Ipsos BookTrends and published by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). This week's focus is the teen (14 to 17 years old) book market.

The Consumer Research Study on Book Purchasing shows that the teen book market has been very fluid in recent years. Between 1997 and 2000, the number of books purchased declined by 15.4 percent, from 35 million to 29.6 million. However, teen book sales surged in 2001 by just over 20 percent as the number of books purchased reached 35.6 million. In 2002, however, the market experienced an 8 percent decrease to 32.8 million units sold, although there was a 6 percent increase in dollars spent -- a figure below the $309.3 million spent in 1998.

Overall, the study found that the teen book market accounts for 2 percent of units sold and 2 percent of dollars spent. Consumer motivation is significant in teen book sales: 39 percent of teen book purchases were impulse buys. Furthermore, 60 percent of teen books were purchased in bookstores, with the large chains accounting for 41 percent. Only 17 percent of teen books were bought in independent bookstores, while 4 percent are purchased in used-book stores, and 7 percent are sold via the Internet, the study reported.

Gift buying also plays an important role in the teen book market, as 60 percent of teen book purchases are intended as gifts. Surprisingly, the grandparent market is not a notable factor in teen book purchases, accounting for just 13 percent of sales. In the children's book market, however, 26 percent of purchases are made by adults 50 years or older.

Regarding seasonal purchasing habits, the spring and summer months are now the strongest buying times for teen books, each garnering 28 percent of sales, while the fall decreased to 24 percent in 2002 from 38 percent in 1997. Moreover, trade paperbacks dominate the market and account for 55 percent of all teen books. Mass market books account for 24 percent and hardcover, 21 percent.

To read about the report on the children's market, click here. For a breakdown of the adult market, click here.