Sunday 5 May 2013


I thought I'd do a little information gathering regarding my readers. I posted this poll on my facebook and twitter feed and at the time of posting have nearly 300 responses.

20% of my followers/friends bought the hardcover.

33% bought the paperback

27% bought the ebook

8% used the library

5% got a promotional copy (A lot of my followers are bloggers!)

And 5% of the people who've bothered to friend me on facebook or follow me on twitter pirated a copy. That's about the same as the numbers buying the hardcover off Amazon... which ain't good!

I suspect in the wider population that last percentage is considerably higher. However, as a glass half-full kind of chap, I'm heartened that 95% of responders appear to have obtained a copy legally. Additionally 88% of the copies were acquired in a way that went some way toward paying for the effort I put in over several years and for the publishers' investment and time. I was worried the picture was going to more grim, even among people interested enough to see the poll.

I ran a second general poll, linked on reddit r/fantasy and gathered more statistics. This one has 450 responses at time of posting:

In this larger survey of a wider set of readers we see:

29% bought the hardcover.

14% bought the paperback

31% bought the ebook

6% used the library

1% got a promotional copy

And 11% pirated a copy.

I'm suprised that the percentages buying hardcover and paperback vary so much between the surveys.
Sad to see that as many copies are stolen electronically as are purchased in hardcover in bookshops.


  1. Sorry to correct you... 80% paid for the effort you put in, not 95%.

  2. well spotted - I've amended the text. Thought the 8% library usage does put money in the publisher's coffers as copies have to be purchased (often in hardcover) and replaced after a number of uses.

    1. Also in the UK a small fee is paid directly to the author each time their book is borrowed from a library.

    2. However, interesting note: this fee does not apply to ebooks lent out by libraries. Nor to the community, volunteer-run libraries which have cropped up since 2010.

      We should probably also throw out there that Amazon also allows people to return ebooks with a full refund within 7 days of purchase.

  3. Sobering stuff. So out of 455 people, 50 were happy to admit they ripped off the author. And yet, if they found the survey through reddit, they'd probably claim to be fans of the genre.

    Interesting to see that Tor US are saying their DRM-free e-book policy has resulted in no discernible increase in piracy. Clearly DRM isn't the answer, but what does that leave?

  4. I guess it also depends on whether or not people are being totally honest. Will everyone admit to pirating??

  5. I took a quick poke at the music piracy figures and the "data" from the music industry is more political than fact. Here's what appears to be a less-biased study:

    Wondering if book readers / listeners follow the same pattern for music piracy or if the trend is less.