We see few surprises here. Around 88% of readers are more likely or much more likely to read a book if it's part of a series they've read already, and very, very few people say otherwise. This is especially interesting considering that series attrition is a known phenomenon -- people definitely do stop reading series in the middle, and many a series has never reached completion as a result. This may well be a case where what we think we would do is at odds with what we actually do.
Moving on, there's a slight preference toward a book that is the first in a series, but it's only around 5%. There's a much stronger preference toward the first book in a completed series; about half of readers are more likely or much more likely to read the first book in a series after the last book has been written. So people... like series, basically. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise; they wouldn't be published if nobody was buying.
In retrospect, I should have asked separately how people feel about standalone books in particular. I originally thought that more/less likely to read a book in a series would make that answer visible in the negative space, but I don't think the data is clear enough to allow any such conclusions to be drawn.
And then there's the length question. I may be unusual in preferring standalone books, and roughly two-thirds of readers don't care one way or another how long a book is. But of that third that care, it looks like there is indeed a bias away from longer works. about a quarter of readers say they're less likely or much less likely to read a book over 500 pages, where only about 12% say they're more or much more likely.
There is a slight bias toward shorter books, on the other hand. Around 15% of respondents say they're less likely to read a book under 300 pages, but around 20% say they're more likely. That's not enough to commit to writing shorter books alone, but it certainly does mean there's space in the market for quicker reads.
The self-pub question was an afterthought. It looks like some stigma remains, and over half our readers are less likely or much less likely to read a book that's been self-published. On the flip side, only 12 readers out of 507 said they'd be in any way more likely to read a self-published book. But the bright side here for our direct-to-reader authors is that 43% of readers simply don't care how you were published one way or the other.
A more mathematically savvy analyst than I might be able to look at those responses and determine if there is a relationship between readers who are willing to give self-pub a shot and those who prefer ebooks. If you'd like to look at the data and run that analysis (or any other), shoot me a line and I'll give you the raw data -- minus the email information for people who wanted to be contacted when this post goes up, of course.
And finally a gimme: are people more likely to buy a book if they know the author on social media? Heck yeah, they are -- 4% of people said they were less likely, but a whopping 70% said they were more and much more likely. So it looks like all that time spent nattering around on the Facebooks and Twitters really does get you in the door.
Annnnnd that's the 2015 Reading Habits Survey. Some surprises, some really not surprises, and a whole lot of "result inconclusive, ask again later." Which does, at least, answer my original question -- my preferences aren't common, but I'm not alone, either. Readers are a diverse bunch, and like a whole lot of different things. And I find that a comforting piece of information: there's plenty of room in publishing for all of us.