Reader Surveys by Genre and Gender

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I’m one of those kids that learns by doing. Who needs research when you can tie your legs together, jump into the lake, and try to swim like a mermaid? With nine books under my belt and four more in progress, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to do a little research on who my readers are. Hey, the lightbulb eventually turns on; it just might take a while!

I found some interesting data on Statista about readers and made a few charts. The survey was taken in 2015 with 2,273 US readers.

The survey asked readers to identify the type of books they’ve read in the last year by genre. (Note that this is a survey of interest not volume. So, someone who reads 20 romances and 1 fantasy novel will check both boxes “yes.”) As with all surveys, take this one with a pinch of salt).

% Readers who Reported Reading Fiction

% Readers who read fiction books by genre

% Readers who Reported Reading Non-Fiction

Non-Fiction Readers by Genre

My genre, Sci-fi/Fantasy, is only read by about 25-26% of adult readers. Congrats to you Mystery/Thriller/Crime writers at 47%! This data won’t make me change my genre preference, but it intrigues me enough to explore the stylistic elements of that popular genre(s)!

The next chart looked at the same data divided by gender.

Reader Genre Preference by Gender

Genre preferences by Gender

I was curious as to whether most of my readers are male or female and discovered that Fantasy is one genre that’s almost evenly matched. In this sample, Sci-fi is statistically read more by men.

The reason for this tidbit of research is my book Sunwielder – though women do enjoy the book, men seem to give it the best ratings. It’s a time-travel (sci-fi staple) fantasy with a strong historical-ish component. The slight sway toward male readers makes sense when I look at the charts above.

I don’t expect any of this to change the way I write, but I did find the info interesting. The world of books is as varied as the readers who inhabit it, which is one thing I love about writing.

As a reader, do these statistics apply to you?
As a writer, is there anything here that intrigues you?

107 thoughts on “Reader Surveys by Genre and Gender

  1. […] via Reader Surveys by Genre and Gender — Myths of the Mirror […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] via Reader Surveys by Genre and Gender — Myths of the Mirror […]

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  3. How to be someone that like to read a lot of genre of book specifically academic book? I’m still searching for the answer T.T

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit. Finding readers is the hardest part of being any kind of author. I write fiction so I’m not knowledgeable on marketing non-fiction, but I imagine it’s quite different. I hope you find your answers. Have a wonderful week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. babbitman says:

    I do love a good bit of data, even if it raises more questions than it answers. Also, you’re probably the reason I’ve been reading more fantasy recently (I’m about a third of the way into Myths of the Mirror and I feel I want to hug you, your writing is such a joy. Or it could be this large glass of fine Chilean red wine I’ve just finished. Either way, love ya!)
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Nick! Wow do you ever know how to make me smile 😀 Keep drinking if it makes the books better. Ha ha. I’ve made a few tightening tweaks to the book before I re-release in August, but it is still one that’s close to my heart. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sacha Black says:

    This is interesting because if you look at book sales – romance always comes out on top followed by sci fi and fantasy. So I was gobsmacked looking at mystery thriller as top! Well interesting though

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, this survey doesn’t look at sales, so romance readers clearly inhale lots and lots of romance. This just looked at the variety of books readers enjoy. Mystery/thriller has a broad audience, but not necessarily as deep, it seems. Thanks for reading, Sacha, and have a great week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Connie T says:

    I like fiction books about magic, paranormal romance, adventure. I don’t like books under 200 pages. I hate books like 50 shades of grey with not much story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like long books too, Connie. I figure it’s going to be something I can dive into and wallow around in for a while. I also like speculative fiction 🙂 Thanks for the visit and Happy Reading!

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  7. I wasn’t surprised about which books were favored by males and which by females. I just hope a lot of people are reading, whatever genre. This was an interesting survey, Diana. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  8. reocochran says:

    This reflected many of my own thoughts and choices of books. I did think that they followed my tastes fairly well, Diana. I like thrillers or detective stories, then romance and last historical fiction. Most of the other genres are intermittent interests. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know much of the detail about the survey, but I’m glad it has some accuracy. I’m reading a romantic thriller right now that’s definitely keeping my interest! Happy Reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        I liked this recent book passed to me by a co-worker. It is by James Patterson (also David Ellis) with a female cop, a drifter, a maniac and a small town. It has a twisted plot, “The Murder House.” I usually am okay with his books, but this has an old house with a bizarre (almost) curse. Your stories are much more rich and layered in character development. You “spoil” the reader, D. I like history or how you create totally new worlds.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. You know I LOVE graphs! And these are delicious, thank you. The one which interested me most was the genre/gender one. A few of the stats made me wonder if people were being entirely truthful. I think people might choose to forget they’ve read certain books considered lowbrow by the establishment, but sales figures belie that assertion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know the ages of the respondents or how they were targeted. So that might be a factor too. Plus the genre buckets are pretty broad. But it’s fun and informative even with the questions. Thanks for the visit, Tara. Happy Writing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. zoe2600 says:

    Really interesting to see the different stats

    Liked by 1 person

  11. dgkaye says:

    Interesting study Diana. Thanks for sharing your findings. And I was surprised to see more male bio/memoir readers than women. Hmm, gives me something to think more about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like looking at stats, Debby, but they’re often so broad that it’s hard to make judgements about them. For example, I don’t know the ages of the respondents or how the data was collected. Plus bio/memoir are two different things (in my opinion). “Running with Scissors” is completely different than “A. Lincoln: A Biography.” Keep doing what you’re doing 🙂 Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Thanks Diana. And you are so right, it’s difficult to gather succinct info to gauge all the particulars in these statistics, but at least it gives us some sort of idea. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Heartafire says:

    A great post D! I learned some things! Personally I love reading auto biographies, history, adore the classics, not a sci fi fan at all…though I did enjoy 2001 A space Odyssey. Thank you again, lovely job! :).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. HemmingPlay says:

    Thanks for posting this information. I didn’t know some things, and only had hunches about others. This was very interesting. But…. things don’t look good for poetry. Ha!

    I was talking with a friend who’s published some things (not poetry). I said “Oh, everyone hates poetry.” She laughed and said that no, lots of people like poetry books. They just don’t like to pay for them. But put a pretty cover on it, she said, and make it a coffee table book, and people would buy it.

    Either that, or I’d better get busy on a mystery. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha. Yeah, we’re all writing mysteries now. Take this survey with a grain of salt – I don’t know the sample, so it’s just a snapshot for fun. I own poetry books and bought a couple more recently. There’s hope! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Diana, this is really a great idea to see what people are reading. I think I was already aware of how popular Crime/Thrillers/Mystery and Romance novels are. Certainly my fiction books would be on down the list. Maybe I need to consider Romance, ha ha. Right now I’m stuck on a book launch, particularly since I don’t really know what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re not the only one based on a few comments here! Sometimes it’s really hard to categorize a book. 🙂 At least Amazon lets us pick two, plus seven keywords for the rest. Hope your launch is going great 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. inesephoto says:

    Wow that is amazing! Both genders equally love fantasy! I actually expected it to be #2 , or at least #3 after Crime and Romance ( I am not too much into romance myself, but I know many people who love it). What I think is that sometimes people confuse Science Fiction and Fantasy, which reflected on the numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get confused about what genre I’m reading now and then 🙂 Especially since so many of cross over or blend. I’ll just keep doing what I do, but it was fun to look these up. Good fodder for discussion! Thanks for the visit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Charts and graphs are so interesting no matter what you enjoy reading or writing

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great data. I have to admit, I was surprised more women liked mystery-thrillers than men. Never would have predicted that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think that was the biggest surprise to me too. But then it’s a huge bucket and it would be interesting to see how it breaks down with the subgenres. All in fun, Jacqui. Thanks for the visit 🙂

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  18. It would be interesting to know how age and ethnicity/ancestry play into this mix, Diana. I ask about age because I notice how the genres I read have changed over time and with context. I remember reading a lot of existential works in college, and sci-fi /fantasy when I was working as a program developer/community organizer – it helped me envision new paradigms. Now, as I write a memoir interwoven with creative non-fiction, I read primarily history, biographies, and other non-fiction works that incorporate Indigenous and Native American perspectives. Although I enjoy most genres, I realize what I read is often a function of where I am in my life at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was wondering about age too, Carol. And I know there are surveys out there that look at particular age groups. (My reading has changed over time too). I’m haven’t seen any surveys of reading preferences by ethnicity or ancestry. I did pop over to Goodreads and took a look at their lists which include a wide variety of Native American books in all genres, so there are definitely people who seek them out and share their reactions. I’m going to go back and browse 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m grateful for the research you’ve done and the information you shared, Diana. It’s one of the many questions I wouldn’t think to explore otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nowmydarling says:

        On the subject of what you read changing with age: I came to reading very late (in my twenties), and now as an avid reader, one of the overwhelming feelings I have is regret that I didn’t read children’s books and young adult fiction when I was young. I know it’s not too late to read them now—and I have been—but I know it can’t be the same. On the other hand, I remember reading one adult book when I was a child (for some reason) and I will always remember and cherish the weirdness of that experience. Thanks for this post.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. The 44-7 relationship regarding romance novels isn’t surprising but it strikes me as both sad and intriguing. Maybe men could spend more time understanding women’s perspectives. Regarding the popularity of the thriller genre, that aspect is present and engaging and everything I’ve read so far, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. joannesisco says:

    Data is always very interesting, but as you mentioned, it also needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
    The questions I found myself asking were:
    1) were the number of respondents approximately the same between men and women? I would hope so to make the info meaningful
    2) were there a maximum number of responses that a person could select? eg – were respondents picking their top 3 or all that apply? The results would look very different.

    I think you said it well in another comment. The results lack nuance, but are still an interesting snapshot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know the answers to those questions, Joanne, and they are good questions. I would also be interested in the ages of the respondents too. The survey site looks professional and the data is probably in there if I want to subscribe – but I was truly just curious 🙂 Have a great week, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Annika Perry says:

    Fascinating statistics, Diana and I’m a sucker for information charts! You seem to be writing the perfect genre with equal stakes for both males and females. What struck me was the fact the huge number of women rather than men who read mystery thrillers as well as true crime books. No surprise about history books but rather saddened by the fact that so few women are into politics, current affairs and business genre. (I might be biased as I do enjoy all these three!😀) Thank you for sharing…as you say it won’t stop me writing in my current style and genre (whatever that is!).

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is interesting, Annika, for what it’s worth, and I think it’s changing all the time. My dad falls into this chart to a tee, which may speak to the sample taken (I don’t know). Thanks for reading and keep writing your uncertain genre. Ha ha. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Ali Isaac says:

    These statistics seem to indicate that in general, men read more of nearly everything than women. I’m surprised by this. Also saddened by the stereotyping we do to ourselves. Ah well. Btw I loved Sunwielder!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s why I don’t get in a tizzy about these surveys, Ali. They’re interesting, but I have no idea how the data was collected, or who made up the sample. When I was growing up, my dad read more than my mom because she was working, raising 3 kids, and managing the house! I think the world of books, readers, and writers is changing all the time, and women are making huge strides in claiming our place and strength as authors. Stereotypes have never stopped me from doing anything I want to do, and I know they don’t stop you 🙂 Happy Writing!

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  23. History and sci-fi are my go-to genres, so mark me down as an exceptionally manly man.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Steven Baird says:

    Interesting. I discovered that the majority of my readers are female, and by quite a large margin. I’m not sure what category/genre I occupy… other/literature/crime fiction? I tend to read more crime or supernatural fiction, though I’m not particular. If the story is good, I’ll read it. Very interesting post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I go on reading genre “binges” so what I read in any particular year can change drastically from year to year. Some years it’s exclusively thriller/crime books, sometimes a long stretch of sci-fi or fantasy. Once I got into a historical fiction binge after reading The Gates of the Alamo. Recently I’ve been reading quite a few Indie books that come from many genres. Once I get through what I have now, I’d like to start reading your books! It’s not for not wanting to, I just have too much to finish reading right now, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t reading wonderful? I used to read alphabetically. Randomly pick a book by an author A, B, C…etc. It was a great way to explore new authors and genres. I’ve been reading lots of indies too lately – it’s especially fun when I know the authors 🙂 Thanks for the visit and kind comment. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Diana, do you ever give recommendations to your author friends regarding considering different stylistic emphases etc? I’m thinking of that ecstatic picture of the woman saying thank you for telling me all the things I do wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Not regarding style or the story that’s inside them. I think we all need to write what we love and find our own voices as artists. But if asked, I will occasionally provide some critique of technical elements of craft. Those are pretty well established so I’m not providing anything beyod the common wisdom, and I’d only do so privately. I’m still learning too, so I hesitate to take a role of “expert.” 😀

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  26. Val Boyko says:

    I wonder if this survey would come up with different results in the rest of the English speaking world…. We have access to the globe now!
    Really interesting Diana 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Sue Ranscht says:

    Understanding the numbers represent numbers of readers and not numbers of books read, I’m intrigued by how nearly equal scifi and romance are. I wonder if they are completely different sets of readers or if there is an overlap, and if so, how much of one? I, for instance, have read scifi since I was 8, but I don’t read chick lit or pure romance. On the other hand, I have a friend who loves fantasy, but avoided scifi until she agreed to beta read for me and my writing partner, and discovered scifi could be about people she grew to care about. Now she reads scifi.

    I wonder if your own observations about Sunwielder (a story with time-travel and historical-ish components) receiving higher ratings from men might help explain the entertainment industry’s many failed attempts to launch time travel TV series — why do women seem less interested in time travel stories? Their cancellations disappoint me every time. And yet I believe Niffeneger’s Time Traveler’s Wife is arguably the most beautiful love story I’ve ever read. (Okay, I admit Romeo and Juliet was pretty good — but it didn’t have TIME TRAVEL!)

    This article, “Who Reads Science Fiction” was published in January of 2014. It offers some insights lacking in the charts, but again, should be taken with that grain of salt. http://www.sfwa.org/2014/01/reads-science-fiction/

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think there is tons of cross over, Sue, and a wide variety when you look at subgenres. I agree that there are some incrediby romantic sci-fi/fantasy books – A Winter’s Tale is another that comes to mind. And I really do think it’s all in flux all the time as writers and readers change and new stories are told. We should think of it as looking to fill the half-full glass to the brim! There are lots of readers out there to hook and turn into fans 🙂 Thanks for the link – I’m going to take a look now. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. noelleg44 says:

    REALLY interesting! I don’t fit into some categories – like sci fi and some fantasy, history – and of course mystery. Hate romance. I think this is because of the reading material my parents gave me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit, Noelle. Not that any of us are going to writing differently, but it is interesting – especially the gender preferences. I love it too that the industry continues to change. Did your parents give you romances to read?? 😀

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  29. Sheron says:

    Very interesting statistics. Great blog. I always thought science fiction (what I write) was dominated by male readers, but I’ve been talking on my blog about how writers are blending genres lately. Scifi mystery, scifi romance…wonder how that affects the numbers. Also I wonder if there has been any shifts over the years. After Star Wars came out and Star Trek, I noticed an increased interest in science fiction and a validation of the genre.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This survey was pretty broad in scope and doesn’t get into the nuances of blended-genres or subgenres, which would be interesting. I also think that this industry is forever changing and what was true a year ago, may not be entirely true today. Sci-fi is a great example as more women write sci-fi and more female characters play lead roles 😀 Thanks for the visit and comment, Sheron. Happy Writing!

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  30. Great post, Diana! Interesting stats, though I admit I’m not surprised more men claim to like Westerns, historical, and SF. The stats for mystery are comforting, since that’s what I’m writing right now, but fantasy is on my to-be-polished list. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Reblogged this on Author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel and commented:
    I’m reblogging a very interesting Reader Survey. As D. Wallace Peach says, “Take this one with a pinch of salt.” I know it won’t make me change anything I write.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Interesting. I’m surprised Romance doesn’t come in with a higher percentage, and the western stats made me gasp. Would I change anything and give up on western? Heck no because I know men read western and romance. *wink* Western percentages are low on other surveys I’ve seen, too, but romance is usually on top. 🙂 (No pun intended!) Thanks for sharing this, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha ha. Nice pun, even if not intended. This survey doesn’t count the number of books read in each genre, so someone who reads 20 romances and 1 biography will check both boxes “yes.” Therefore it’s probably not an accurate reflection of sales, only a broad look at interest. (I should update the post to make this point.) I have the feeling that romance readers are pretty dedicated and gobble them down by the truckload. 🙂 Thanks for the visit and the reblog Mary!

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Julie says:

    I like to search the shelves of the local library for the oldest looking bindings and then attempt to discover what keeps them there. Often it is beautiful words that stir the soul. Thanks for a great post, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a wonderful way to search for books. I used to browse alphabetically – pick an A author, then a B author, etc. It was a fun way to try new books 🙂 Lately I read a lot of fantasy since that’s what I write, but I like exploring too! Thanks for the visit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Susanne says:

    What a great find. I’m curious about the “other” fiction bucket in which women out number men. I wonder what’s included in it? I’m also intrigued that women like thrillers and mysteries more than men. That is really surprising to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That surprised me too, Susanne! The Mystery/Thriller/Crime bucket is pretty big, which is why these surveys are interesting but shouldn’t be taken for gospel. The source site probably has the back up data on what constitutes “other” but I didn’t look that deeply since this is just for fun. Thanks for visiting and have a great week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Warning: You will not like what I have to say!

    It’s like blogging and looking at your status every day. Do we write for readers and followers, or do we write for us?

    In the end, I hope we write for us, whatever comes to mind…book or blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No warning needed – I like everything you say! 😀 I write what I like to write, and I don’t pay much attention to stats. But, I do get curious! And I love to learn and grow as a writer and try new things. Will I begin writing thrillers? Nope. But I wouldn’t mind learning more about how to writing a thrilling scene. There are writers who will write what’s trending, but every author that I know writes the stories they love for the pur joy of it. Thanks so much for the comment. Anytime! Have a great week 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Al Lane says:

    Interesting research. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  37. jlfatgcs says:

    Very interesting! My surprise is fewer men reading Mystery Thriller Crime and fewer women reading History. -Jennie-

    Liked by 1 person

  38. balroop2013 says:

    I always thought romance is read more than any other genre…while we can never generalise but I guess a mixture of mystery and romance always attracts. Good for you Diana, your kind of books seem to be the quite popular! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This survey doesn’t distinguish how many books of a genre someone reads.So, someone who read 20 romance novels and 1 fantasy, would check yes on each. It doesn’t reflect sales, just interest. Sales by genre would probably look quite different! I should look that up 😀

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  39. Seems very applicable to me, prior to devoting more time to writing. Now I expend much more effort reading for research so the number and diversity of fiction has given way to a more academic non-fiction mix. What used to be several books of various genes per month has dropped off and the time spent writing and editing instead. If I had to choose only three books for my stay on a desert island, I suppose it would be a John Sandford “Prey” novel, a McMurtry western and a biography of any significant historical figure. But writing is my priority these days and I find the stats to be encouraging.So far I have two crime/detective fiction and one historical action/adventure fiction titles released and another crime fiction ready to come out this summer. Each has bits of other genres blended into the stories just to spice it up a bit. Thanks for the interesting post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can relate to how writing bites into reading time (and everything-else time too)! It sounds like you’ve hit on some popular genres, Mike, with a good audience base. And I’m all for blending genres – I think it makes for interesting reads. Thanks for the visit and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  40. For some reason it tickled me to see that 1% of men admitted to reading chick lit…made me laugh to imagine lots of guys on the subway with book covers made of brown paper grocery bags reading those books but not willing to admit to it. I know, I am strange!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha ha. I didn’t think of that. Hey, if a book is exceptional, it shouldn’t matter, right? When I was looking for agents, there were definitely male agents who had chick-lit as a specialty, so they must enjoy it. I like the image of the plain covered book on the subway – most people would probably think it was something kinky he was trying to hide!

      Liked by 1 person

  41. It was a relief not to see Erotica on your chart as I fear my own writing genres would have disappeared even further! Interesting though. And I’m like you, Diana, jump in and try to swim.

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