Book Readers: Stephen King Still Wears the Crown

The "King of Horror" keeps his throne: Stephen King is still America‰Ûªs favorite author. Men are more likely to be found thumbing through the history books, while women are poring over mysteries, thrillers or crime novels. What do telekinetic prom queen Carrie White, D.C. police consultant Alex Cross, and wonder of the wizarding world Harry Potter all have in common?

Their imaginative creators are none other than America‰Ûªs top three favorite authors. Stephen King and James Patterson each retain their spots from 2010, numbers one and two respectively, while J.K. Rowling arrives in the number three position after a long ride up the chain from a tie for ninth place five years ago. Next up is a tie for fourth place between John Grisham, who previously held third, and Dean Koontz, who is up two spots from his old home at number six.

Stephen is King amongst both men and women, but competition gets fierce amid the various age groups and education levels, according to The King of Horror Keeps His Throne: Stephen King Is Still America‰Ûªs Favorite Author.

  • Those between the ages of 25 and 64 most prefer a good scare from Stephen King, but 18–24 year-​olds are pledging their literary love to the works of J.K. Rowling and older adults, 65 and up, favor getting wrapped up in a mystery ÌÊ la James Patterson.
  • Meanwhile, Americans across most educational levels up through college grads are most enamored with Stephen King, but post grads are more likely to reach for John Grisham.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,273 adults surveyed online between July 15 and 20, 2015.

Next up in the top ten is romance author Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb at number six, down from her previous number four position. Up from that ninth place tie with J.K. Rowling in 2010, the ruler of the rings himself, J.R.R. Tolkien, is now tied for seventh with an author who is new to the top ten list this year: Samuel Clemens (better known by his pen name, Mark Twain). Ninth place introduces another new author to the list, Nicholas Sparks. Rounding out the top ten is Danielle Steel, down from seventh place in 2010.

But in order to make room for newcomers, some authors had to lose their places among the top ten. Spy specialist Tom Clancy, who passed away in 2013, dropped off the list after holding 5th place in 2010, while conspiracy master Dan Brown also dropped from the top ten this year after coming in 8th five years ago.

What‰Ûªs America‰Ûªs favorite book genre? It‰Ûªs a mystery!

When asked which types of books (from a provided list) they‰Ûªve read over the last year, a plurality of Americans (47%) indicate that they‰Ûªve been filling their book-​bags with mystery, thriller, and crime novels.

Around three in ten Americans have been flipping through history books (33%), biographies/​memoirs (31%), and romance novels (27%), while a quarter have read cookbooks/​food writing (26%), science fiction (26%), and tales of fantasy (24%). In addition, around two in ten adults have read classics/​literature (23%), health & wellness (22%), religion & spirituality (20%), self-​help (19%), and true crime (19%) books in the past year.

But which demo is most attracted to each genre?

  • The first choice across every generation is mystery/​thriller/​crime, though it is most read by Matures (66%) and then by Baby Boomers (51%), followed by pluralities of Gen Xers (38%) and Millennials (43%).
  • Mystery/​thriller/​crime is also the favorite among women (55%), while men are most likely itching to get their hands on history books (46%).
  • Once again, post grads seem to take their own path, torn between whether they are most likely to be found reading history books or biographies/​memoirs (51% each), while everyone else is likely to be holding tight to mystery, thriller, and crime novels (45% HS or less, 49% some college, 44% college grads).

Book readers are still out there! AudienceSCAN found that 35% of consumers are Book Readers. Now that you know their favorite genres and authors, use those details in ads for your booksellers. Try out some ads/​coupons in mailboxes, because 37% of Book Readers took action after opening them in the past month. And do it in time for Cyber Monday: 35% purchased something online on Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving). And don't forget about approaching used book stores and thrift shops: 27.5% of book readers bought or sold an item in a resale/​consignment shop in the past year.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.