Stephen King is America’s Favorite Author

NEWYORK, N.Y. – October 7, 2010 – The choices are endless-fiction or non-fiction, then, maybe science fiction, a thriller or a chick-lit book? Finally, which author? A recent Harris Poll showed that Americans are reading , but what are they reading? And, who are their favorite authors?

Among those who say they read at least one book in an average year, eight in ten have read a fiction book in the past year (79%) and while a similar number say they have read a non-fiction book (78%). Among those who read fiction, almost half (48%) read mystery, thriller and crime books, while one-quarter read science fiction (26%) and literature (24%). One in five say they read romance novels (21%) and one in ten have read graphic novels (11%) in the past year. Less than one in ten read chick-lit (8%) and western (5%) books, with 36% saying they read other types of fiction.

 

TYPES OF BOOKS READ

What types of books have you read in the past year? Please select all that apply.

Total

%

FICTION (NET)

79

Mystery, Thriller and Crime

48

Science Fiction

26

Literature

24

Romance

21

Graphic Novels

11

Chick-Lit

8

Westerns

5

Other Fiction

36

 

Among those who read non-fiction books, three in ten read histories (31%) and biographies (29%) with one-quarter (26%) reading religious and spirituality books. Lesser numbers have read political books (17%), self-help books (16%), current affairs (14%), true crime (12%) and business (10%) books in the past year. Three in ten (29%) have read another type of non-fiction book.

 

TYPES OF BOOKS READ

What types of books have you read in the past year? Please select all that apply.

Total

%

NON-FICTION (NET)

78

History

31

Biographies

29

Religious and Spirituality

26

Political

17

Self-help

16

Current Affairs

14

True Crime

12

Business

10

Other non-fiction

29

 

These are some of the findings of the Harris Poll conducted online between August 9 and 16, 2010, among 2,775 online U.S. adults ages 18 and over.

What are different groups reading?

There are some small differences by generation in types of books read. Echo Boomers (those aged 18-33) are more likely than other generations to read literature (42%) and graphic novels (18%). Matures (those 65 and older) however, are more likely to read mystery, thriller and crime novels (61%) and westerns (9%). There are also some gender differences. Women are more likely than men to read mystery, thrillers and crime novels (57% versus 39%), romance (37%) vs. (3%), chick-lit (12% vs. 4%) and religious books (30% vs. 21%). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to read science fiction (32% vs. 20%), history books (40% vs. 23%), political books (25% vs. 10%), and business books (16% vs. 4%).

Favorite author

Regardless of the types of books people read, certain authors are perennial favorites. America’s favorite author is the King of horror and suspense – Stephen King. He’s followed by a very prolific mystery writer, James Patterson and then legal thriller author, John Grisham. Rounding out the top five is Nora Roberts, who also writes as J.D. Robb at number four and Tom Clancy at number five.

 

FAVORITE AUTHOR

Who is your favorite author?

Unprompted responses

2010

Stephen King

1

James Patterson

2

John Grisham

3

Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb

4

Tom Clancy

5

 

Another horror and suspense writer, Dean Koontz, is at number six, followed by the queen of romance, Danielle Steel at number seven and then the author who helped bring the genre of biblical thriller to the forefront, Dan Brown. Tied in the ninth position are two authors who have created extensive fantasy worlds – J.K. Rowling with the world of Harry Potter and J.R.R. Tolkien, who brought hobbits to life for millions.

So What?

The authors on this list make publishers very happy. Most publish fairly routinely, usually guaranteeing a best-seller. But these authors have all been around for quite some time (and one is dead), so publishers may need to be on the lookout for the next great, and prolific, writer. But regardless of who that is, at the moment Dan Brown and Stephen King still make American readers rush to get their latest releases.

 

TABLE 1

TYPES OF BOOKS READ

What types of books have you read in the past year? Please select all that apply.

Base: Adults who read at least one book in average year

Total

Generation

Gender

Echo Boomers

(18-33)

Gen. X (34-45)

Baby Boomers (46-64)

Matures (65+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

FICTION (NET)

79

84

81

76

76

73

84

Mystery, Thriller and Crime

48

41

50

47

61

39

57

Science Fiction

26

31

30

25

13

32

20

Literature

24

42

28

13

13

27

22

Romance

21

20

20

23

20

3

37

Graphic Novels

11

18

11

8

4

15

8

Chick-Lit

8

14

9

5

3

4

12

Westerns

5

3

3

7

9

7

4

Other Fiction

36

36

41

33

36

29

42

NON-FICTION (NET)

78

73

78

81

81

79

77

History

31

31

30

28

36

40

23

Biographies

29

25

28

31

34

29

30

Religious and Spirituality

26

22

23

29

27

21

30

Political

17

18

14

15

23

25

10

Self-help

16

15

19

15

15

12

19

Current Affairs

14

14

15

14

16

20

9

True Crime

12

11

13

12

8

9

14

Business

10

9

12

9

9

16

4

Other non-fiction

29

29

31

28

26

28

30

Note: Multiple responses accepted

 

TABLE 2

FAVORITE AUTHOR

Who is your favorite author?

Unprompted responses

Base: All adults

2010

Stephen King

1

James Patterson

2

John Grisham

3

Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb

4

Tom Clancy

5

Dean Koontz

6

Danielle Steel

7

Dan Brown

8

J.K. Rowling

=9

J.R.R. Tolkien

=9

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 9 and 16, 2010 among 2,775 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #115, October 7, 2010

By Regina Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research