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Gallup on Women Book Buyers

July 05, 1987|ELIZABETH MEHREN

NEW YORK — During any given week in 1986, 56% of the adults who bought a book were women, a new survey conducted by the Gallup Organization has shown. For the year as a whole, women bought 59% of all books, with college-educated women accounting for 33% of those purchases. The book-buying pattern closely follows a trend observed in 1984, when Gallup first began tracking American book-buying habits, and 1985. Martha Hickson, a research assistant at the Gallup Organization headquarters in Princeton, N.J., said the survey service had been studying book-purchasing as part of a contract with the magazine Publishers Weekly.

The information is based on weekly telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, age 18 and above, throughout the country. Hickson said each adult is asked if he or she has bought a book in the last seven days, and if so, questioned further to determine if the book was hardcover or paperback; fiction or nonfiction, and what genre within fiction or nonfiction.

The latest compilation of poll data for 1986 showed that women who had completed high school bought 22% of all books that year. Those with less education bought 4%. Book purchases by women suggested a preference for fiction (49%) over nonfiction (38%). Among fiction titles, romance was the most popular genre, accounting for 22% of women's 1986 fiction purchases. Favorites in the nonfiction arena were reference books (17%) and biographies (16%). Far and away the majority--64%--of women's book purchases last year were in softcover. But it was in the category of gift books that women most firmly made their 1986 consumer mark. Fully540488229bought by women.

EXECUTIVE STATUS: Novelist/essayist/nonfiction author Susan Sontag has been chosen president of the PEN American Center in New York, succeeding Hortense Calisher. Her predecessors as chief of the largest of the 86 centers of International PEN, a worldwide association of writers, translators and editors, include Booth Tarkington, Robert Frost, Bernard Malamud and Norman

ATTENDANCE REPORT: Bookseller attendance at the American Booksellers Assn. convention over Memorial Day weekend in Washington was up 54.8% over the previous year's attendance in New Orleans.

AIDS UPDATE: In order to address new concerns about Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, "The Joy of Sex" and "More Joy of Sex" have been revised to include current information about the disease. The landmark books by Dr. Alex Comfort will be released by Pocket Books as trade paperbacks in October and August respectively. First released in 1972, "The Joy of Sex" claims 5.5 million copies in print. The sequel, "More Joy," boasts 1.5 million.

Also on the AIDS front, Yale University Press will publish "AIDS and the Law," billed as the first comprehensive survey of the legal issues surrounding AIDS, this fall.

WIRED FOR SALES: In the tradition of flowers, wine, balloons and chocolate chip cookies, Books by Wire will offer the bibliophile the opportunity to use the telephone to fire off a book (co1836084325inscription") to faraway friends and relatives. The concept is the brainchild of longtime Flowers-by-Wire mogul John L. Bodette and a consortium of businessmen. Official start-up for the one-day delivery service, proposing to link more than 2,000 booksellers nationwide, is early 1988.

SENIOR THESIS: Now that "Ally vs. Ally: America, Europe and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis" has been published by Praeger, author Anthony Blinken thinks more college seniors ought to try to market their senior theses. "I really feel, quite honestly, and this is not an attempt to be falsely modest, that a lot of people who write theses at a lot of our universities have interesting things to say, e en at 23, and 22 years old, and could get them published," the former reporter for the New Republic said. This first book for four-year Harvard Crimson reporter Blinken, now a third-year student at Columbia Law School with a summer job in the fancy New York firm of Rogers & Wells, came out of his 1984 senior project at Harvard. Priced at $12.95 in paperback, "Ally vs. Ally" carries a steep $29.95 pricetag in hardcover. Said Blinken, "Even my family won't buy that." Then, deadpanning, he added, "I've reserved the rights for the miniseries, but we haven't discussed who'll play the part of the pipeline."

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