June 4, 2008, - 1:42 pm

Good News & Bad News on The Biggest Influences in America

By Debbie Schlussel
Who is the most influential person on the American book-buying public?
Well, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, Oprah is not the most influential.
The bad news? It’s Jon Stewart. In my book, he’s equally as moronic and annoying, as are his followers to hers. Mere sarcasm and being obnoxious–without any substance to back it up, as in Stewart’s case–does not make you smart. On the contrary, it betrays your simplicity.


Alien v. Predator

Yup, America–with Jon Stewart and Oprah as your Number 1 and Number 2 literature critics–you’re goin’ down the tubes very quickly.
But there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud. Stewart only influences 8% of book-buying decisions, and Oprah only 5%. Yes, those are significant spheres of influence. But at least we know the other 87% don’t listen to these “culture” cretins.
What influences the smarter 87%?

No one is more revered in publishing than Oprah Winfrey and her televised book club. But when asked “What makes you buy a book?” more readers named Jon Stewart (8%) than Winfrey (5%), according to a poll of reading and book buying habits to be released today at BookExpo America. “The Oprah book phenomenon is well-documented,” says Fritz Weaver of Zogby International, which conducted the poll for Random House. “But Stewart’s audience, although smaller, cuts across more demographic lines.” The biggest influences in picking a book: suggestions from friends and family, what publishers call “word of mouth” (60%) and book reviews (49%). The poll also reports 11% prefer curling up with an e-book reader, PDA or other format rather than a printed book. Details of the online poll of 8,218 adults are at www.zogby.com.

While I don’t hold much stock in Zogby polls–their polls on Arabs, Muslims, and the Mideast are skewed to match the Arabist Zogby Brothers’ anti-Israel, pro-HAMAS/Hezbollah positions, and Zogby polls have been wrong in a lot of elections–there is some interesting info in the poll summary about who is buying books, why, and what their habits are. . . if it can be believed.
Also, I wonder how accurate online polls are in this case, since I’d bet a significant number of book-buyers are not frequent online users.

7 Responses

my friends all watch John Stewart and they think it makes them smart and informed…

PrincessKaren on June 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I agree that most people who read lots of books aren’t significant online users, except maybe to order books through Amazon or eBay. While they may read some blogs — really essential today with the MSM garbage — when you spend time reading books, you may not have time to read every single blog, every single link, follow the convoluted evolution of every blog story. Years ago, more people belonged to groups like the Book of the Month Club. While some of their books were clearly garbage, not all of them were. There were also book clubs where credible critics such as Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun helped choose the books. Today, most of these ‘book readers’ couldn’t get past the first page of something like that.

c f on June 4, 2008 at 2:16 pm

In the old days most of us browsed the chain bookstore and bought from them. Nowadays, most folks buy from Amazon or again, the online bookseller. Its hard to find good classics anymore. The only really two good books is a Britannica Encyclopaedia set and the Great Books Of The Western World if you’re pressed for space. That and a Bible and of course Shakespeare’s collected works. Get the rest at the library.

NormanF on June 4, 2008 at 2:49 pm

One way to find whatever someone is looking for is to go to the following site:
This is the online catalog of thousands of libraries worldwide, including both local public libraries and university libraries. Search terms can be entered, and they can also be refined in numerous ways. I use it all the time.

c f on June 4, 2008 at 3:01 pm

“I’d bet a significant number of book-buyers are not frequent online users.”
I’d bet a significant number of book-buyers, book-readers & frequent online users are not online poll takers.
Oh, and online researchers.

Aunt Bea on June 4, 2008 at 3:20 pm

I find it hard to believe that the exceptionally unfunny Stewart with an daily audience of about 1.4 million (yep, that 1,400,000) has much of an influence over ANYONE.
Good grief, Bill O’Reilly reruns get more than that.

Jack Bauer on June 5, 2008 at 2:29 pm

“Good grief, Bill O’Reilly reruns get more than that.”
Not any more they don’t. Billo’s stats have been declining for years.

No Pasaran! on June 6, 2008 at 11:43 am

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