01 June 2011

The reading habits of TYWKIWDBI visitors

The poll began when I posted statistics about the reportedly poor reading habits of the U.S. public, and strideranne opined that TYWKIWDBI readers would be quite different.  I decided to find out.  I had no idea what choices to put in the poll, and arbitrarily chose these:
  • two books a week or more (>100)
  • one book a week ("about 50")
  • two books a month ("about 25")
  • one book a month ("about 12")
  • one book a season ("about 4")
  • one or two books a year
  • no books, but I read other things
After the first 24 hours of the poll, the first 200 or so responses formed a very nice bell-shaped curve, peaking at the "two books a month" choice.  That was nice, because the peak was right where I was, and it seemed appropriate that I should fit at the median of the readership of the blog.

I set up the poll to last a week, and as the days went by the responses continued to pour in.  I don't have precise demographics of visitors here, but I can sense that there are several groups.  There is a "hard core" that visit every day and comment often.  A larger group (I think the majority of regular readers) come here about twice a week; this is the group for whom I designed the blog when I decided to format it with 25 posts on the front page, which is about 2-3 days of my productivity - so someone who comes twice a week can see all the new stuff without clicking through to the back pages.  Most of these readers are silent "lurkers" (as I am, on most of the sites I visit), and comment only when their expertise is useful. 

Finally, there are also a couple thousand who come on any given day in response to specific posts that have been linked elsewhere; these transients may or may not respond to a poll in a sidebar that is explained in another post.  I rather suspect the poll data mostly reflects the regular visitor.  Here are the final results from over a thousand respondents:
  • read over a hundred books a year:  204
  • read about 50 books a year:  223
  • read about 25 books a year:  234
  • read about 12 books a year:  206
  • read about 4 books a year:   121
  • read one or two books a year:  63
  • read no books, but read other thing:  50
I could see the change in distribution happening as the week went by.  The quick responders (people here every day) clustered around 25 books/year, but those who visit once or twice a week read perhaps twice as many books on average, tipping the scale up much higher. 

And, of course, the data only reflect those who respond to the poll, which may or may not be representative of TYWKIWDBI visitors in general. I spent enough years analyzing science data not to be fooled into overinterpreting data like these.  But I do think the poll results are interesting.

What was perhaps most useful were the comments offered in response to the poll, because 60 people offered book recommendations, some of which I've added to my personal "to be read" list.  I think what I'll do in the future is about once a year write a post where people can share their book recommendations, because there is such a variety of interests among visitors here.

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, somewhat conforming to the data, I responded with 2 books a month within the first few hours of the poll but a day or two later I changed it to 2 a week when I realised that, as a philosophy student, I had forgotten to include the books I read for academic purposes rather than pleasure.



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