16 December 2009

Industrial Vigilante: One-In-Ten Americans Reads Comics...Or Do They?

If you or someone you know hasn't picked up a comic or graphic novel lately - or ever, the Industrial Vigilante says you might want to consider a trip to the bookstore or your local comic shop this afternoon, especially if you or that unnamed someone aren't the sort of folks who like feeling left out.
According to Simba Information's compilation of Winter 2009 data as collected by the Simmons Market Research Bureau, one in ten adult American book buyers also reads comic books. That's 10% of the book-buying public over the age of 18. In addition, 70% of adults who have read comics have also purchased at least one (1) prose book - fiction, non-fiction, what have you - during the last twelve months. While buying just a single book would be serious torture to me, recent literacy data has indicated that 44% of adult Americans don't even buy one in any given twelve-month period.
US News online reported the US population to be about 306M in January of 2009 and Wikipedia places the current total over 308M. It also states that 27-percent of the population, roughly, is below the age of 20. For this blog's purposes, we'll figure that 25% - or 77,000,000 people - are below the ripe age of 18 and weren't counted in the Simmons/Simba studies. That means, then, that 102M American adults don't buy books or read comics at all. It's possible these folks may read library books or the fine print on internet porn sites instead, but the implication here is that American literacy and the general interest in reading is pretty damn bad.
On a much more uplifting note, the recent information also suggests and supports the conclusions made by several other comics studies, that reading comic books is associated with a greater interest in reading other material, as well as improved academic performance in younger readers.
Simba's research has been noticed because the reported number of comic book readers comes as a surprise to the industry, and a welcome one at that. But when you've been in comics as long as Ivy, the Industrial Vigilante, you know there's more to the 'The Big Panel' than meets the eye. Finding any real value from the One In Ten requires a Vigilante to ask some tough questions, such as:
  • Why are the number of readers so high? And who are they, specifically?
  • What types of comics are the One In Ten reading?
  • Is the comics industry addressing their customers and potential customers well enough, or even at all?
  • How is the economy affecting comics?
  • And oh yeah, what's the story with the younger readers? Where did they go?
Hmph! Dabblers, 'looks like the Industrial Vigilante's going to be sticking around for a while. We'll get these questions figured out, so keep reading... and stay vigilant.

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