Monday, April 12, 2004

Book Groups Less Price-Resistant; Favorites of 2003

Cost is not an obstacle if a reading group has strong interest in a book, according to a recent survey conducted by Reading Group Choices of more than 2,400 book group members. Among other findings, although 58% of all book group selections are in paperback, this year's results showed groups bought hardcover versions of The Da Vinci Code and The Five People You Meet in Heaven rather than wait for their release in trade paperback.

"The surprise of this year's survey results is how the number of hardcover selections have climbed to 42% of the total number of books chosen for book group discussions during 2003," Donna Paz Kaufman, publisher of Reading Group Choices stated. "Nearly a 20% increase over the past year." The online survey was conducted between January and March 2004.

The survey also indicated that backlist titles with visibility can have a long life in the book group market. Pope Joan (1997), The Red Tent (1997) and Girl With a Pearl Earring (1999) have all enjoyed years on the Reading Group Choices Book Group Favorites list.

The survey also provided "a clear indication that most book group members prefer topics that address the literary nature of the book and those that draw out the reader's own personal life experience," reported Kaufman.

Favorite Book Group Choices of 2003 were:

1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking)
2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Doubleday)
3. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (Picador USA)
4. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (Random)
5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Harcourt)
6. Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (Plume)
7. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Grove)
8. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins)
9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Little, Brown)
10. Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Knopf)
11. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Picador USA)
12. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor)
13. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross (Ballantine)
14. Atonement by Ian McEwan (Anchor)
15. Cold Mountain by Charles Frasier (Vintage)

Reading Group Choices was launched in 1995 to help readers identify and select "discussible" books, simplify the process of facilitating group discussions and keeping them on track, and introduce readers to a variety of appropriate books from a range of publishers. The group's Web site ( ) offers select reading guides that can be printed directly from the site and links to publishers Web sites with resources for book groups.--Kevin Howell

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