What about those who aren’t residents of planet Earth?

Reading one of the longer books I’ve undertaken in a while and a string of enjoyable weather has kept me from the blogging world. I think favoring a book and good weather over the electronic world is more than justifiable. And if a recent Random House/Zogby poll is any indication, I’m not alone in at least part of that view.

According to the poll, which has only a 1.1 percent margin of error, 80 percent of the respondents don’t plan to buy an e-book reader and 82 percent would rather curl up with a printed book than one in electronic format, whether online, with an e-book reader or a PDF file. That isn’t the only sign book readers don’t necessarily view the electronic world as conducive. Eighty-five percent have never purchased an e-book and 95 percent have never participated in an online book chat with an author or belonged to an online book group. Nearly a third, however, depend on online book reviews for recommendations and 77 percent buy books online and that is where respondents buy books most often.

Other items I found of interest are that 78 percent buy the books they read while 19 percent borrow them from the library. Half buy fewer than 10 books a year for themselves but more than half buy 1-5 books a year they never get around to reading. Sixty-four percent don’t regularly shop at independent bookstores (which may well be a reflection of availability) but Democrats (40%) and independents (33%) are more likely than Republicans (20%) to regularly do so. More than three-quarters make unplanned book purchases when they go into a book store for a specific book.

And while this may not reflect actual sales, only five percent say Oprah Winfrey makes them want to buy a book whereas eight percent say the same of Jon Stewart. In addition, investors and frequent Wal-Mart shoppers (27% each) are more likely than their counterparts (18% each) to say talk radio makes them want to buy books.

And a finding that is perhaps more puzzling for what it asks rather than what it says: “Respondents who identify themselves as residents of planet earth (62%) are more likely than those who self identify as residents of America or their city or town to agree that book reviews make them want to buy a book.”

A book is a membership card to a secret society — a society of minds, with manifold interpretations and moods and intentions. You enter that society, the book’s lines imprint on your retinas, and your brain will never be the same.

Paul Verhaeghen, Omega Minor

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