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Suggestions & Questions > Per-book statistics (average age & gender distribution)

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Frank Hestvik (aspeloev) | 6 comments A Norwegian book site similar to Goodreads has two very cool statistics on book pages, namely something like:

"Average age of readers: 25"
"72% of readers are male" (should arguably be normalized against the site-wide sex distribution)

These two numbers very quickly give an intuitive feel of the demographics of the book.

I would love to see them on Goodreads as well.


Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments not giving my age


Frank Hestvik (aspeloev) | 6 comments ?

Naturally it calculates the average from the people who do list their age. Likewise with gender.


Emelie | 104 comments I think it could be fun.


message 5: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Dec 05, 2011 01:27PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments Frank wrote: "?

Naturally it calculates the average from the people who do list their age. Likewise with gender."


I'm not the only one not giving my age, and some people don't give gender. This means such statistics as you suggest would be meaningless.


Nikki (shanaqui) | 1252 comments Definitely contemplating removing my age as well.

Besides which, some people don't even fit within the narrow binary options goodreads allows you to record. I know that's probably a minority of GR users, but it's still a point to bear in mind.


Petra SockieX (PetraX) | 4621 comments Its my birthday tomorrow and I'm going back 10 years. I may also change my sex (at least on GR).

Gender and age statistics are meaningless if large numbers of people either don't give that information or don't give the correct information.


Frank Hestvik (aspeloev) | 6 comments It's an indicator, only meant as a guide to intuition, not as a Fact about the book at large. I don't claim it will be meaningful in some rigorous mathematical sense. Not everyone adds all books, nor is everyone who has ever read a particular book on Goodreads either (extremely few are, relatively speaking), so no statistics will necessarily represent the entire sample population. Furthermore, there are people who don't rate any books at all... None of these people are taken into account for the average rating we already have, so is not that "meaningless" as well?

I would say no--because average rating is understood to be in the context of GR, users on GR who do rate their books, and +/- random jitter from people who outright lie about their ratings (we can rationalize everything). That's the sample population, not all readers. Likewise these new numbers would imply a similar context: "average age of GR users who has read this book and listed their age: 25 +/- skew from those who lie about or randomize their age")

But to give some examples, pulling data from the other site:

Eclipse:
22 is the average age
3% of owners report being male

The Forsyte Saga:
37 is the average age
27% of owners report being male

Infinite Jest:
31 is the average age
63% of readers reported being male
5% of readers who starting this book never finished it (another "meaningless" statistic on this other site)

(I should mention that the other site's user base is very heavily skewed toward the female sex and they don't normalize, so even an expected 50-50 split will come out as ~30% male. But again, it's not useless, it just means the data should be normalized or it should be used comparatively instead.)

My claim is that it's not meaningless (to me), because simply from those numbers I can take a guess at the relative reader bases, even if it were the case that I have never before been exposed to these three books. I don't want to wade through reviews to get the same intuition. I personally don't like to read long reviews detailing what a book is "about" before I read it, I like to know as little about the content as possible, but I do like some indication of whether it will be "for me" or not. Thus I prefer much more generic and abstract indicators like commonly accepted genres and numbers like these. But sure, there might be some liars in there, and there might be a certain age groups who refuse to list their age, etc., but I don't think there's too many of them. I still find it a useful metric for my own comparisons, and hopefully others would as well. I understand those who would dismiss them outright as silly, but then it's no skin off their backs? Esp. if they're already used to tuning out the "meaningless" average rating.

The nature of age and gender are probably polemic concepts to some, but I don't want to argue about them. I just want the numbers, who in this case indicates (they don't prove anything) that I will find myself more at home in the demographics for Infinite Jest than I would reading Eclipse. I'm not saying they should replace reviews or blurbs or anything else, but complement them.

I just thought this was a cool thing about the other site, and I want it here as well, because I'd rather use Goodreads!


Donna (deety) | 930 comments People have made requests about using age or gender in some aspect of Goodreads before, and a lot of Feedback posters tend to frown on that.

Age and gender are self-reported here, and many users don't include them. But even more important to me is the idea that we shouldn't be encouraging the idea that some books are for certain types of people. What you see as info to help you decide what to read could easily be confining to others, pushing people away from books that the stats say are too "female" or "young" or whatever.

My entertainment choices often don't line up with the stereotypes about my gender, but I still encounter those stereotypes all the time. It's really refreshing to have a space like Goodreads where I don't have to constantly face the (often incorrect) idea that my choices are somehow atypical.


mlady_rebecca | 2020 comments I'd actually like to see statistics like this, whether they're 100% accurate or not.


Riona (rionafaith) | 176 comments What's with all the people requesting gender-specific recommendations and stats lately? It seems so bizarre to me.

Even looking past the points that have already been made about accuracy, I'm curious as to how this info would be useful to people. Let's say you're a 25-year-old male who is looking at book in which 90% of readers are females between 18-23. Will you then not read that book? Or the other way around: if you find a book that's read mostly by people in your demographic, will you read it based only on that? I don't understand how demographical information is more useful than reading the summary, reviews, ratings, what listopias it's on, what people have shelved it as, etc.

I'm also curious as to how the age statistics would work, since many of my books have been read over a period of years. If I read a book tomorrow, as a 23-year-old, okay, that's easy for the system. But what happens in 10 years? Will the system see my rating and the age on my profile and factor me in as a 33-year-old? Or will it look at the "read date" and still count me as a 22-year-old? The latter would obviously be more accurate, but I have a feeling it would be a big drain on the system, since it would have to constantly update itself.


Nicole  | 46 comments I think that this would be cool to have, accurate or not. And Frank is right, regardless of if they fill the information out correctly or not, it is just like the ratings, there are plenty of books I hardly remember that I rate 3 stars just because I remember them. So the star ratings are hardly accurate either.

I can see the other side of it as Donna pointed out, but It would be a cool thing to consider. I would like to see how many people didn't finish certain books.


Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments Nicole wrote: "I would like to see how many people didn't finish certain books. "

???

Does this suggestion have anything to do with whether or not someone finished a book? I mean, how could you tell whether someone finished it or not?


Craig Riona wrote: "What's with all the people requesting gender-specific recommendations and stats lately? It seems so bizarre to me.

Even looking past the points that have already been made about accuracy, I'm curi..."


I'd like per-book statistics because it would refine my book selection.

For example if I see a book that averages 2.5 stars I might put it on my TBR list where it will sit for a few months. If I view this same book and see it has 2.5 stars overall but 4.5 stars for people in the same demographic I might read it next week.


Dionisia (therabidreader) | 326 comments Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "Nicole wrote: "I would like to see how many people didn't finish certain books. "

???

Does this suggestion have anything to do with whether or not someone finished a book? I mean, how could you ..."


I believe she was referring to one of the examples in message 8. The emphasis below is my own....


Infinite Jest:
31 is the average age
63% of readers reported being male
5% of readers who starting this book never finished it (another "meaningless" statistic on this other site)


Interesting, but I have no idea how Goodreads would calculate this kind of data.


Stefani (steffiebaby140) | 453 comments I don't know why people have to get into a huff about people thinking this would be an interesting tidbit. I certainly would read a book that had a 99% average age of 14 year old girl, just as much as 99% average reader of a 50 year old man. Statistics (accurate or not) like these are not going to stop me from reading a book, nor do I feel that they "portray" a certain book as something only for "certain people". It's interesting facts. I would be interested to know that most of the reported readership of this was male, and would be interested to see if that affected my enjoyment of it at all, it probably wouldn't.

There's nothing to get into a debate about or get upset about, its just something interesting and I would be interested to see it.


Sara ♥ (saranicole) | 359 comments I like the idea, but I think it might be even more helpful to break it down by star rating, you know? The average age of people who rated this book 5 stars is ##, and ##% of people who rated this book 5 stars are female or whatever. For all the star ratings. Because maybe 10% of readers are men, but 50% of the 5-star ratings are from men, or whatever. What do you think?


message 18: by Riona (last edited Dec 05, 2011 07:34PM) (new)

Riona (rionafaith) | 176 comments Stefani wrote: "I don't know why people have to get into a huff about people thinking this would be an interesting tidbit. I certainly would read a book that had a 99% average age of 14 year old girl, just as muc..."

I don't see anyone getting into a huff over this. People always debate the pros and cons of new suggestions in the feedback group. Obviously it is impossible for GoodReads to implement every new feature suggested, so it's important for people to discuss them when the subject is broached.

Sara ♥ wrote: "I like the idea, but I think it might be even more helpful to break it down by star rating, you know? The average age of people who rated this book 5 stars is ##, and ##% of people who rated this ..."

I see how this data could be interesting and I think this would be a better way to do it. I still think this would be difficult to implement and require a lot of resources though.


I'm always nervous to make gender divisions like this, and others who have brought this up make valid points. Reading habits vary a lot among people of the same gender, and there are many people who do not fit into the definitions of "male" and "female". I don't think GoodReads should be reinforcing these archaic stereotypes, and I know people are saying that they're just curious, they don't want to use this data to stereotype -- that's essentially what it boils down to. I think the data about readers' genders should be as irrelevant as the color of their hair. Sure, it might be interesting to know that 37% of readers have blonde hair, but is that really a priority when deciding if you'll read a particular book?


Petra SockieX (PetraX) | 4621 comments Riona wrote: "I'm also curious as to how the age statistics would work, since many of my books have been read over a period of years. If I read a book tomorrow, as a 23-year-old, okay, that's easy for the system. But what happens in 10 years? Will the system see my rating and the age on my profile and factor me in as a 33-year-old? Or will it look at the "read date" and still count me as a 22-year-old? "

That is such an excellent point and totally makes a mockery of any books read by anyone in the past.


Nicole  | 46 comments Riona wrote: "Stefani wrote: "I don't know why people have to get into a huff about people thinking this would be an interesting tidbit. I certainly would read a book that had a 99% average age of 14 year old g..."

I think the point is that it could help when deciding what you might want to read. I'm curious to see what people my age are reading. As for "Archaic" stereotypes, I'm writing this assuming you don't mean "male" and "female" stereotypes.

I don't think that it stereotypes books, in fact you might find that some books break stereotypes which might make people someone more comfortable reading it. (My exboyfriend willingly read the Twilight series, which could alter those statistics)

I also think that people on this site truly love to read (otherwise you wouldn't join a site devoted entirely to books) so these "stereotypes" as you call them in fact won't matter.

And as for the hair color, color isn't a factor, but perhaps knowing that a book is favored heavily by men might make me want to suggest it to a friend or see what it is about the book that makes it appeal more to men than women.

Gender divisions are a part of life, even people that are transgendered identify more with one sex than the other. I think by making it "gender division issue" you're making it more controversial than it needs to be.


Frank Hestvik (aspeloev) | 6 comments Dionisia wrote: Interesting, but I have no idea how Goodreads would calculate this kind of data.

I don't know how that other site does it, but probably something simple like:

1. User adds book X to "currently-reading"

And then,

2a. User takes book X off "currently-reading" and adds it back to a non-read shelf (e.g. "to-read").

OR,

2b. User takes book X off "currently-reading" to "read" but without filling in the finished date field (date read). This way it will have a started date, but no finished field. (So books you've just randomly added to "read" won't count since they will lack the started date.)

But yes, that's probably not easily implemented with the current Goodreads, since I can see people being even more haphazard about filling in date read than they are about filling in gender/age.


Donna wrote: But even more important to me is the idea that we shouldn't be encouraging the idea that some books are for certain types of people. What you see as info to help you decide what to read could easily be confining to others, pushing people away from books that the stats say are too "female" or "young" or whatever.

But it could also intrigue people and make them choose specifically to read books that do not appear to be in their demographics at all. Sometimes I want to explore what the opposite gender tends to read, or people younger than I am, or older, as the mood strikes. Some of the Norwegian books I've been reading lately have been of the "8-15% male" variety on that other site. But I still read them, it's just interesting. It doesn't have to be a "narrowing in," it could also aid in exploration. (And it's very convenient as opposed to browsing dozens of people, looking at their shelves to gleam information that way.)

Obviously some of us see a point in it, and the tiny extra numbers should also be easy to dismiss. Like Stefani hints at, people are intelligent enough to either ignore these numbers (if they aren't interested) or understand enough about how they work to take them with a grain of salt (imagine some young-adult books showing an average age of 40+ because they were only popular in the 70s).

The latter "anomaly" be could be fixed by only including books that have at least the year set for when it was read though. But this is a design issue. The other site includes the average age of all users who "has" the book, it doesn't look at when you read it.


Riona wrote: Or will it look at the "read date" and still count me as a 22-year-old? The latter would obviously be more accurate, but I have a feeling it would be a big drain on the system, since it would have to constantly update itself.

Assuming it only counts books that has at least the year filled in for when it was read, then the average will indeed be fixed over time. Year of birth and year it was read are relatively static numbers--you are and will always be 22/23 in the year 2011--so there's no need for any "updating," it's just a simple subtraction when aggregating the data. I suspect you would be able to calculate the average for a book with a single SQL query, and the result will be independent of time, it will only need to be re-queried when more people add the book. (And usually these queries will only happen when someone actually looks up a book, and then cached server-side so each look-up doesn't need a re-query.)

Or alternatively it could be a property of the book itself, updated only incrementally as people add books, so it simply counts the age you had when you first added it to "read", regardless of other factors. Then it becomes a very trivial per-add calculation and it doesn't need to query/cache results on a per-book basis. Another design choice.


Frank Hestvik (aspeloev) | 6 comments OK, a few more points. Sorry for the spam if you subscribe.

Sara ♥ wrote: "I like the idea, but I think it might be even more helpful to break it down by star rating, you know? The average age of people who rated this book 5 stars is ##, and ##% of people who rated this ..."

Yes, that's what I would really want, ideally, but I hesitated to make the first post too technical or having too many details because I've never posted here before so I didn't know what to expect or who was reading. The main problem I see is in convincing people to acquiesce to any kind of gender statistics at all.

After that, breaking it into 1-star, 5-star, etc. becomes a technicality.


Riona wrote: I still think this would be difficult to implement and require a lot of resources though.

Depending on the design choice, it wouldn't require only slightly more processing: keep one average attribute for each star (trivial cost), or hit the cache five times instead of once. The amount of data processed in each turn though, is likewise 1/5th of the original, so this is all I/O cost.

I won't presume to know the technical back-end of Goodreads, but I do assume they're very technically competent, more-so than I am, and that they thus have a reasonable set-up where adding something like this won't make their servers catch fire or anything.

... I'm always nervous to make gender divisions like this, and others who have brought this up make valid points. Reading habits vary a lot among people of the same gender, and there are many people who do not fit into the definitions of "male" and "female".

Yes, I understand your point of view. And I suspect you understand mine as well: when looking at a large "mass" of people, the correlations are still there, and I find them interesting. The other site proves they exist: some books simply are heavily skewed to this or that gender, or toward younger or older readers, so much so it can't just be random. You wouldn't find that with hair color; hair color is irrelevant, but gender/age is clearly not. No statistics apply to a single individual. You might defy any correlation with your age or gender in every possible way. I might too. But the site and these numbers aren't "you" or "me," it's a collective, and they indicate trends of certain groups of people.

Of course these numbers are going to be completely random for books that only five people have read. But for mainstream and popular books that has tens of thousands of readers?

I don't think anyone would argue with me if I claimed the Twilight books' fan base will be skewed toward the young-ish female (that doesn't mean a given young female will be interested!), or that The Art of Computer Programming will probably show a skew toward the adult male (ditto). We know these things already, intuitively, our brain stereotypes automatically; and they are trivial and unsurprising examples to us. But in many cases they aren't trivial at all, and that's when they become interesting! If I find a hard sci-fi books that seemed inordinately favored by females, I'd want to try it, or if I found a vampire romance book that averaged at 60% male, I'd be interested in trying that too, to see and taste the differences.

I wouldn't be able to find statistics like that very easily any other way, other than trusting people's recommendations (but oh how we suck at that).


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Much as I'd love to see how it would characterize my age for the 1700 books I have shelved as read in 1911, I'm still not willing to put my age in any online profile.


Darkpool (protesting GR censorship) (Darkpool) | 223 comments Frank wrote: "or that The Art of Computer Programming will probably show a skew toward the adult male (ditto). We know these things already, intuitively, our brain stereotypes automatically; and they are trivial and unsurprising examples to us. But in many cases they aren't trivial at all, and that's when they become interesting! If I find a hard sci-fi books that seemed inordinately favored by females, I'd want to try it, "
This, I think, absolutely speaks to my biggest problem with this whole idea; that the young and impressionable young women on this site will see those books with (presumably, according to you) their predominantly male readership, and go "gasp! Girls don't read these books! I want to fit in, so I'll go read another stereotypical teen girl book so that I'll be the same other teen girls, and the other girls won't think I'm a freak."


Riona (rionafaith) | 176 comments Darkpool wrote: "This, I think, absolutely speaks to my biggest problem with this whole idea; that the young and impressionable young women on this site will see those books with (presumably, according to you) their predominantly male readership, and go "gasp! Girls don't read these books! I want to fit in, so I'll go read another stereotypical teen girl book so that I'll be the same other teen girls, and the other girls won't think I'm a freak." "

Amen. I see this kind of BS everywhere in the media, and we really don't need more of it on a site as smart and savvy as GoodReads.


BunWat wrote: "I suppose if enough people want to see GR compile some more "lies, damned lies, or statistics," they can party down with it, and I can just ignore the whole thing. But if I find myself getting book recommendations from GR based on the ratings/shelves of women my age I will a) get really annoyed, and b) remove my age and gender from my profile pretty much pronto. "

Agreed completely.


I actually like statistics and fun facts and useless info like that! But I feel like these in particular would be more divisive and prejudicial than geniunely helpful.


message 26: by Donna (last edited Dec 06, 2011 12:52AM) (new)

Donna (deety) | 930 comments Those statistics can be really fascinating when they're pulled out and used to discuss a larger point, like the gendered reading post on the GR blog earlier this year.

The data revealed in that blog post, that only about 18% of the books reviewed by self-identified male Goodreads members in 2010 were written by women, is a big part of why I dislike the idea of seeing gender-based stats offered as a way of helping users decide what to read.

It can be difficult enough for many readers to step outside of their comfort zone without having books pigeonholed right on their info pages. It's great that so many folks in this thread think that they wouldn't personally decide against a book because it was mostly read by the opposite gender. But is it really worth it to have "men like this and women like that" stats for the fun of some users at the risk of turning others away from books they may have been interested in?


Frank Hestvik (aspeloev) | 6 comments Darkpool wrote: that the young and impressionable young women on this site will see those books with [..] their predominantly male readership, and go "gasp! Girls don't read these books! I want to fit in, so I'll go read another stereotypical teen girl book so that I'll be the same other teen girls, and the other girls won't think I'm a freak."

I can't tell if this is sarcasm, but to err on the side of caution I'm going to take it seriously even if I make a fool of myself. For the 16yo girl in me is very offended right now. :) These "young women" are not imbeciles. I dare you to find a person who exemplifies what you described, who reasons like that.

Peer pressure, sure, OK--so they can look at what their friends are reading, friends of their friends, they can look at lists made by people their age who seem cool or who pretends to know what they're talking about, they can browse their favorite genres, etc. These are their peers, this is where the "pressure" comes from. How are these activities any less "enabling" for this terrible compulsion to conform they all seem to have? (Not to mention: should we police it? Why not go further?) Is it realistic that people like that would get on Goodreads and catalogue their books for all to see? Isn't that in itself an expression of one's self, an act of an individual? I would guess that the desire to "be different" than our designated cookie-cutter demographic is much stronger for most.

And going to such extremes on a number... Upon seeing a less-than-stellar average rating on a book, can you picture them thinking: "Oh, this book looks good... but I'll skip it because it has a low average rating and that means if my friends have read it there's a higher probability that they didn't like it, and surely they'll tease me about liking bad books or think I'm weird!" I can't.


Donna wrote: It can be difficult enough for many readers to step outside of their comfort zone without having books pigeonholed right on their info pages.

Genres are far worse perpetrators. Let's say you've made up your mind that you dislike fantasy. Don't feel bad, a lot of people think like that. You've got nothing against the genre, but it's just not for you, OK. Then you chance upon Red Shift. Look at the cover, look at the genres, check out the other books by the author. Surely this is some kind of young adult fantasy? No, it's not. And I'll be first in line waving my pitchfork when you reject it because "fantasy is just not for you." We may argue, we may fight; hopefully we will be friends again some day.

Oh, yes, tragedies like these happen all the time, every second of the day! Yet we still read books. We don't stop reading books because there are more genres, more reviews, more ratings, more statistics. What seems to be the issue here is that we are very worried about other people will somehow base their choices on things we consider silly, they'll make up their minds for all the wrong reasons, and so on, and so forth.

I think we ought to trust these other people more and credit them with a modicum of autonomy.

I'm interested in reading sci-fi books with a larger-than-ordinary older female fan base? Delany? Le Guin? Heinlein, yes or no? What am I doing wrong in wanting to explore this curiosity? Will everyone else but us holy few fall into horrible traps of demographic conformity simply because these numbers are easily available? I don't think so.


BunWat wrote: But if I find myself getting book recommendations from GR based on the ratings/shelves of women my age [..]

No! Where did you get that from? That is not at all what I suggested, it's far from what I want. It sounds like something that would crash and burn horribly (given the obvious streak of nonconformity across the board).

What I was talking about was this: just a few numbers, tiny and unobtrusive, displayed on the "book detail" pages, maybe around where you now see "average rating," or at the bottom, or below "readers also enjoyed." Just a few numbers, so that people like me can diversify as the mood does, explore by cues. Just a few numbers, sitting there, quietly, never lifting a single digit to harm a fly. Just a few numbers, exuding peace and serenity for all. And again now, from the top~

I thought it was a cool thing on that other site that could also be a cool thing here. Some harmless fun statistics that people could ignore as they saw fit. But no, OK, the gender issue is not to be touched, it lies on hallowed ground where no numbers can multiply; and age, "age is just a number" already, but apparently it's one of those hipster numbers, very obscure, you wouldn't know it, and it defies conventional arithmetic.


Sandi Obviously this could never be acurate since not everyone gives their info (or is truthful about it). But it could be a fun gimmick as long as you keep this in mind.


message 29: by Donna (last edited Dec 06, 2011 02:59AM) (new)

Donna (deety) | 930 comments Genre preference is a poor comparison to gender, because taste in genres can (and often does) change.

Someone can't immediately meet me and know that I'm into fantasy novels. Nobody will ever judge my value as a fan of historical swashbuckler fiction based on how I look or what I wear, and I'll never have to hear people complain about how mystery readers are treated just like everyone else now so everyone should just shut up about anti-mystery bias. Strangers on the internet don't think it's funny to tell random sci-fi fans to make them a sandwich.

If not wanting my favorite website to include the same old gender-based nonsense merits sarcastic or condescending responses and accusations of being in a huff, I'm cool with that. I just feel like I have as much a right to present an opposing opinion as others do to advance suggestions.


Sam (Ecowitch) | 107 comments I'd be kind of interested in this as a point of curiosity (which is how I think it was portrayed at the start of this thread) and I don't really see it as sterotyping or any thing along those lines as long as it just shown as a simple figure somewhere on the book page or even on the stats page for the book. That way those who want to see them can and those who don't want to know can ignore it easily.


Darkpool (protesting GR censorship) (Darkpool) | 223 comments For the record, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm not going to get into a contest about which one of us knows better what goes on in the brain of a 15 y.o. female, and maybe things are different in Norway than they are here. I guess your inner 16 year old girl got just as upset about my comment, as I did about your implication that women don't read hard scifi. I still stand by what I said - that I believe having that info on the book page will narrow the book choices for the young and impressionable in particular, specifically females, but possibly males as well (although as an old school feminist from way back I don't really care what males choose to read). To me, the possible negative outweighs the positive of satisfying our curiosity about what a typical reader of a specific book might look like.


Craig Darkpool wrote: "For the record, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm not going to get into a contest about which one of us knows better what goes on in the brain of a 15 y.o. female, and maybe things are different in Norw..."

Are you arguing that young female readers aren't independent minded to make their own decisions about what to read?

If so they'll be far more influenced by what their peers read than what random statistics on goodreads show.

If your advocating hiding information from people to influence their behavior I can't think of any time in history that way a good idea.


Sheila  | 572 comments While I can see how some people might find these statistics interesting, I can also definitely see how others might disagree.

Lets say they start tracking statistics of books read by age, and gender. What is next?

Books read by Race?
55% of the readers were Chinese
3% were Canadian

Books read by Religion?
69% of the readers were Muslim
4% were Christian

Books read by Marital status?
79% were divorced
5% were never married

Books read by Political Leaning?
54% were Democrats
33% were Communists

Do any of these stats have any more or less value than books read by age or sex?


MrsJoseph | 1649 comments I would find this information fascinating. Growing up I noticed that I shared the majority of my reading interests with men than women.

I would really be interested in the stats on romance.


Craig Sheila wrote: "While I can see how some people might find these statistics interesting, I can also definitely see how others might disagree.

Lets say they start tracking statistics of books read by age, and gend..."


If people supplied, and goodreads tracked, that information it would all be interesting to see. We talking about voluntarily supplied data: if you don't want to be included in any statistics just don't fill in that field or ask good reads to include a "don't include my data in book statistics" option.

When dealing with information that doesn't hurt anyone I think the onus should be on those advocating suppression not dissemination.

side note: I don't think Canadian counts as a race ;-)


message 36: by Emelie (last edited Dec 06, 2011 08:33AM) (new)

Emelie | 104 comments Sheila wrote: "While I can see how some people might find these statistics interesting, I can also definitely see how others might disagree.

Lets say they start tracking statistics of books read by age, and gend..."


As a lover of statistics, I would think it interesting to get such information. Just for the fun and curiosa.


message 37: by Catherine (last edited Dec 06, 2011 08:41AM) (new)

Catherine (CatherineEilers) | 35 comments I don't feel strongly about this issue either way (if this were a library, I would feel strongly against, but it's not), but I do see how having some demographic info about particular books could be useful in helping me push my reading outside of my comfort zone. I'm always interested in finding books that are popular among certain groups but not within my own demographic interstices--likely because they haven't been marketed to people like me. I would *love* to see which books are most popular by country (of readership, not of origin). For example, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is considered pretty obscure in the English-speaking U.S. (my demographic), but I'm told she is considered a classic author in many other countries. I haven't read her yet; am I totally missing out? Are there other authors I'm missing out on?

I think this becomes a big issue because publishers often assume that the only people who will like a book are those who are demographically similar to the author. Look at the way that African-American fiction is marketed. So finding out what other groups have to recommend can be really valuable.

ETA: I've also always been interested in books that belong to a generation--that were really popular at one time but then faded into obscurity. The Forsyte Saga might actually be one of those. I don't know if you could quite get that from the average age of the readers, but an age distribution chart would be fun to see for some books.


MrsJoseph | 1649 comments Catherine wrote: "I don't feel strongly about this issue either way (if this were a library, I would feel strongly against, but it's not), but I do see how having some demographic info about particular books could b..."

To somewhat piggyback on what you said (and go somewhat off-subject)

...I hate the way African American fiction is marketed and (to some extent published). I've noticed that I stay pretty far from AA fiction because it is almost always the same. It feels as if publishers decided that this demographic only likes that and no changes have been made since.


Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments I look at book descriptions to see if I'm interested in reading a book. I don't really give a rat's ass whether someone my age or gender likes it or not. This would not be particularly useful, bit I agree would be interesting. It seems to me the problem is that GR is supposed to be a business, making a profit. How does "interesting but not useful" turn a profit for GR, and therefore be something they'd likely implement?


Nairabell | 165 comments It would be interesting to see gender/age statistics for books - especially for ones like Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunters as she has a really mixed readership (I remember reading a thread on a board somewhere and there was everything from teen girls to retired marines) or YA (I've been to YA signings with mixed crowds).

That said, I doubt it would affect what I choose to read as I pick books by interest not because I'm in the target audience.


Catherine (CatherineEilers) | 35 comments How does "interesting but not useful" turn a profit for GR, and therefore be something they'd likely implement?

Isn't that how Facebook turns a profit? They collect the statistics and sell them to people who want to sell you things.


Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments I have no idea how Facebook or GR turn a profit. GR is my favorite website, but not because it's free. My second most favorite website is a subscription website that I pay over $100 a year to use.


Craig BunWat wrote: "Catherine wrote: "How does "interesting but not useful" turn a profit for GR, and therefore be something they'd likely implement?

Isn't that how Facebook turns a profit? They collect the statis..."


Goodreads already keeps and tracks gender information (see the gender reading post on their blog). I'm assuming they track age and location data as well just users can't see it right now.


Catherine (CatherineEilers) | 35 comments BunWat wrote: "Because you liked this book, you might be interested in that book. Other people who liked these three books also liked this fourth one. That makes a whole lot more sense to me than assuming that because I share gender with someone I also share taste in reading materials. "

I'm really not advocating for the whole advertising thing.

But I think that because books are marketed to certain demographics that recommending books based on "others who read also liked..." is going to be inherently demographically skewed as well. I'm more likely to pick up a book because it's marketed to people of my gender, age, class, etc. And I may well actually like the book quite a bit. But the other people who also pick up the book are likely to share many of my characteristics, and they are most likely to have picked up other books marketed to the demographic they share. And they are likely to have liked those books because those books are designed to appeal to people like us, and so those books get recommended to me...

It's not like this is a terrible thing, as long as you are aware of it. And some people are happy with staying in their comfort zone, and that's fine. But just because it's often left invisible doesn't mean that we're working outside of it.


Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments All you have to do is get older, then advertisers stop targeting you for anything. It's one of the perks of having had a lot of birthdays. ;-)


Paula (Paulaan) | 412 comments I agree with Bun Wat, I m less likely to buy /choose a book that is "marketed" to my age/gender for a number of reasons as per Bun Wat experience has taught me I m unlikely to like the book and pure ass*d stubbornness around marketing strategies .

In fact the majority of advertising / marketing has the adverse effect on me making sure I do not buy the items.


Cheryl in CC NV (cherylllr) | 2823 comments I prefer that GR does not use demographics. I feel more comfortable here because I'm not targeted so narrowly. I'm off to erase my age from that field now (I'll move it to my description).

Besides, considering that issue of whether to count my age today (48) or my age when I read book XYZ (8) is probably unresolvable without major server drain, isn't this discussion just about moot?


MrsJoseph | 1649 comments I think it would be a great tool. I have several friends who are in the process of compiling their 2012 reading lists - statics factor rather high in this process - and this would be good info to factor into which books to choose.

And yes...when I say compiling I do mean a multi-sheet excel workbook with an Access database attached.

It takes all types to make the world go round.


Elizabeth (Alaska) | 8203 comments MrsJoseph wrote: "I do mean a multi-sheet excel workbook with an Access database attached. "

I use an Excel spreadsheet for my challenge plans, 3 months at a time. Isn't this the way everyone behaves? ;-)


Sandi Sheila wrote: "Do any of these stats have any more or less value than books read by age or sex?"

Changing your haircolour or your nationality won't change your reading habits. Aging does though - your favourite books at age 15 will most probably not be the same as at age 65.


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