Knowing where your readers are buying books can help ensure your marketing efforts are reaching your target audience where it is most effective. While we’ve written in the past about the reading habits and consumer behavior of bargain ebook buyers, we haven’t yet explored what devices our members are using to shop for ebooks. And perhaps more importantly, how this device breakdown varies by genre. So we’ve analyzed recent BookBub purchase data to see whether sales are happening on mobile or desktop devices, and to find out if readers in certain categories buy ebooks differently than others.
Using sales reports from our retailer partners, we were able to chart the number of mobile (for example, tablets and smartphones) and desktop (including laptops and other non-handheld computers) downloads for each BookBub book that’s run in the past couple months. Aggregating these results allowed us to arrive at an overall breakdown, which was split almost exactly down the middle with an equal number of sales happening on mobile and desktop devices.
We then compared the percentage of mobile and desktop sales in each BookBub category with the average across all titles:
This chart suggests that clear genre trends do exist. For example, romance readers appear to buy books on mobile devices more often than the average member, and those who read edgy subgenres like Erotic Romance and New Adult are even less likely to use a desktop. This is perhaps unsurprising; romance has historically tracked highly in terms of ebook and mobile reading adoption, and young, tech-savvy users may flock to its newer subgenres. Other categories that likely attract younger demographics, such as Teen and Young Adult, also skew more mobile.
On the other hand, Mysteries, Action and Adventure, and Science Fiction readers bought books on desktop devices more often. General Nonfiction — which may attract a larger proportion of older readers — also skewed towards desktop sales.
Despite these apparent trends, we wanted to ensure that they accurately reflected genre differences and that the numbers weren’t driven by outliers. To do this, we mapped the device breakdown of individual titles and compared them to the overall average:
The titles in each category cluster around one point here, confirming that device usage is correlated with genre. While outliers exist, they are generally within range of the mean.
One interesting note is that where there were outliers, they seemed to make sense within the overall purchase patterns we observed. For example, sales of Loving Sex were 28 percent more likely to be on a mobile device — much higher than the average for the Advice & How-To category. But this book also stood out as one of the edgiest books we’ve ever featured in what is typically a mild-tempered genre. Perhaps confirming that fact, the percentage of mobile sales more closely resembled the average for Erotic Romance than Advice.
It’s important to remember that the averages shown here are just that; individual books may sell better on mobile or desktop devices no matter the genre. And other factors could also be influencing these numbers. For example, if the demographics of BookBub members have changed over time, titles featured in newer categories may sell differently than those in older genres.
But overall the data indicates that purchasing habits do vary by genre. Readers in traditionally ebook-friendly categories, like romance, are more likely to buy books on mobile devices, while the opposite is true in genres like mysteries and nonfiction. For partners looking to optimize their marketing and advertising strategies, it’s worth considering where your title falls on this device breakdown. For example, if you write in one of the more mobile-centric genres above, you may want to invest additional resources in channels that are notoriously mobile-heavy, like Facebook and Twitter.
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