What I learned about books while waiting in the Sears tire shop

Harlequin books


On Sunday February 10, 2013, I took my daughter’s Ford F150 to the Sears Auto Service Center in Longview, Texas, where I was imprisoned for approximately three hours.

In anticipation of a lengthy wait just to get a flat fixed, I brought my Nexus 7 tablet, freshly charged and loaded with a couple of new eBooks on the Kindle app.  When I walked into the waiting room, two ladies  more chronologically gifted than I were already seated, biding their time while one of the two  mechanics on duty struggled to repair their broken down van. (But that’s another story).

One of the women was playing Sudoku, the other reading a paper back. As our incarceration lengthened, I asked the lady reading the book the obvious question.

What are you reading?

Her answer was something like this. “It’s a Harlequin book.  I’m a member of the Harlequin Book Club and for $20 per month they send me about six of these.”  She held up the mass paper back. “I share them with a friend of mine who buys her books at the store, and we have another friend who also swaps some with us.”

“I read almost everything on one of these,” I said as I held up my tablet.  “Some people are even reading books on these,” I added and showed them my smart phone.

“I just have a plain vanilla cell phone my daughter gave me,” the reader said.  “But my niece reads a lot of books on her phone.”

“I hear people say that there aren’t many readers anymore,” I said.  “But I think there are more readers now than ever.”

“I know I read a lot more now than I used to,” she said. “Back in the day, I was too busy raising kids and making a living. Now I read all the time.”

Amazon Kindle

Just think about that exchange for a minute.  The truly remarkable thing about it was that the woman’s report of her reading habits was an almost perfect reflection of the  most prevalent book buyer demographic in the United States.  I only know this because of recent research I did on this topic in connection with a project we are putting together on Caleb and Linda Pirtle.

That research shows that the biggest number of persons who buy books on line are men and women in the age groups of 55-64 and 64 and over.  That population is also weighted in favor of women. Women 65 and over buy more books on line than any other group in the United States.

In recent months, we have seen a lot of blogs about the influence of baby boomers in today’s world of entertainment.  Claude Nougat, an Indie author, is the unofficial spokesperson for the emerging boomer books genre.

The numbers tell an amazing story.  The fact of the matter is that boomers are the foundation on which the digital revolution stands.  It is the old coots like me (I’m 60) who buy all the books. Some of those books are paper, but a whole lot of them are eBooks.

Put that in your virtual pipe and smoke it.

Oh, and by the way, the two ladies spent four and half hours in the Sears Auto Service Center to learn that the shop that replaced their radiator last week botched the job.  They were hitching a ride back to Dallas in the tow truck, plotting their revenge on the former mechanic.

Don’t mess with a baby boomer, especially two of them working together.

So now we have an even shorter definition of the boomer genre: the books boomers buy.

That definition raises some interesting questions.

Stay tuned.  The revolution is coming.

(Stephen Woodfin is an attorney and Indie author.  He buys a lot of books, and he was born in 1952.)

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