Saturday, July 23, 2005

Book and Reading Statistics

This showed up in my email box from Alan Nichter, Adult Materials Selection, Hillsborough County Public Library System and I thought it interesting enough to share.

Some startling statistics
by Robyn Jackson

So you want to write a book. Well, why not? So does about 80 percent of the United States population according to a survey by the Jenkins Group.

Anyone who has ever tried to find an agent or get a manuscript accepted by a publisher knows what a tough business writing is. Even if you do get your book published, there's no guarantee anyone will buy it.

The following statistics about book publishing and reading were found on, the Web site of self-publishing guru Dan Poynter. They'll give you an idea of what you're up against if you want to write books for a living.

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.
(Source: Jerold Jenkins,

53 percent read fiction, 43 percent read nonfiction.
The favorite fiction category is mystery and suspence, at 19 percent.
55 percent of fiction is bought by women, 45 percent by men. (Source: Publishers Weekly)
About 120,000 books are published each year in the U.S. (Source:

A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.
A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.
(Source: Authors Guild,

On average, a bookstore browser spends 8 seconds looking at a book's front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover. (Source: Para Publishing,

Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines. (Source: Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment banker)

Sunday, July 17, 2005


One of the best things about having a website is the soapbox it gives me to stand on. I had a wireless cell phone plan with ATT, and never really had a problem. Until Cingular bought them out or took over or whatever these cannibal companies do to each other. I have had problems with my bills every month since, including a new wrinkle that started about three months ago.

Every month I get a small charge on my bill, usually less than a dollar so I probably shouldn't even notice it, but it's for AOL Instant Messaging. I don't have an account with AOL and I don't use Instant Messager or Messenger or whatever it is. So I called Cingular and got a very bored woman who insisted I must have lent my phone to someone who then used AOL. As if. What am I, twelve years old? Everyone I know has their own damn phone and doesn't need to use mine. I was also told there were no supervisors available - how convenient - but that she would give me a once-in-a-year goodwill credit for the eighty cents. I explained I wasn't so concerned about the eighty cents, but I was concerned with the fact that it appeared someone was using AOL and I was being billed for it. She finally agreed to put something in the notes of our conversation, promising that someone would read it.

The next month it happened again, another small charge for AOL. I didn't bother to call. Then it happened again. This time only thirty cents but still, it's the principle of the thing. So I called customer service, went through fifteen minutes of voice mail, punching in numbers and horrible muzak before finally reaching Jason, who from the moment he said hellohowcanIhelpyou, had disdain dripping from every syllable and I knew it wasn't going to be good. I was dealing with a supercilious young man with a superiority complex. I tried to explain the problem to him and he gave me the same "you must have lent your phone to someone" spiel. I asked for a supervisor and was told none was available. I really tried to make him understand that I wasn't concerned with the thirty cent charge but with the fact that I hadn't lent my phone to anyone yet somehow AOL charges were appearing on my bill. He finally said he would talk to someone else and put me on hold. Eventually he informed me that he could shut off my Internet access which meant I couldn't use some of the features of the phone I paid for. I asked about any other options and was told take or leave it, he didn't really care what I did. I finally said go ahead and do it, my contract will be up shortly and I'll take care of it then. His reply was "piss off" and then he hung up on me.

I am forwarding a copy of this to Cingular and I trust that his name is on my records since supposedly he had the Internet service taken off my phone. I have only dealt with one competent person at Cingular, and she was with the corporate services department. Everyone else there has been ignorant, impatient, uncaring, unsympathetic and downright rude. I've been given completely erroneous information time and time again. No one has any idea of what is going on, what is the right thing to do, or how to make a customer happy. Or at least not aggravate them further. If I was Jason's boss, I'd fire him. Immediately. And then I'd sit down and read THE NORDSTROM WAY or another good management book and make all my employees read it too. And practice it. Good customer service doesn't cost any more than bad and can make a company a lot of money in the long run.

My contract ended and I am shopping around for new cellular service. If anyone is happy with their carrier and is in the south Florida region, I'd love to hear about it.

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