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Poll: Most buy books at chains or online

May 29, 2008|Josh Getlin | Times Staff Writer

American readers buy books most frequently online and in chain stores, with considerably fewer seeking out independent stores as their first choice, according to a survey of U.S. book buying habits released today by Zogby International. Asked about their overall buying habits, 77% said they shop online, 76% buy at chains and 49% shop at independent stores, the survey found.

The polling firm, best known for its surveys of presidential races, was commissioned to conduct the survey by Random House, which is publishing Chief Executive John Zogby's "The Way We'll Be," a study of changing trends in how Americans buy and vote. The results, which polled 8,218 adults online, were unveiled as Book Expo America, the nation's largest book convention, got underway this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In other findings, the survey found that mass acceptance of digital publishing and e-books may still be a ways off: The great majority of readers, 82%, said they preferred to read traditional, printed books and only 11% indicated that they were comfortable reading books in other formats, such as an e-book reader on a hand-held device.

There was also generally good news for publishers and booksellers when it came to reading habits. About 46% of those surveyed said they had spent the same amount of time as usual reading in the last year, and 23% said they had spent more time reading; 30% reported that they had been reading less than usual.

On a more playful note, the survey asked what book people would recommend if the president of the United States called them at 3 a.m., complaining about an inability to sleep. Respondents offered suggestions, including the U.S. Constitution, and David McCullough's "1776." Others suggested classics such as "War and Peace" and "Lord of the Rings," as well as books by politicians, including Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

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josh.getlin@latimes.com

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