I recently ran a contest for members of my VIP email list. I do this every month, to thank the two hundred or so folks on the list for letting me send them promo messages. To enter, a person usually just sends an email to a special address I've set up for contests, and I draw the winners at random.
Sometimes I use this sort of giveaway for market research. This past month, I asked people who entered to answer two questions: 1) how many books do you typically read per month? 2) how many books do you typically buy per month?
Thirty three people entered this contest. The answers were pretty interesting. Many of these people read so much, I don't know how they get anything else done in their lives! Quite a few answered with ranges, so that's how I tallied the results.
Here are the statistics. "Lower bound" means the lower end of a range, while "upper bound" means the upper end. If a reader specified a single number, I used that for both lower and upper bound.
Read per month, lower bound – average 17 --- min 2, max 45
Read per month, upper bound – average 20 --- min 3. max 45
Bought per month, lower bound – average 11 --- min 0, max 30
Bought per month, upper bound – average 15 --- min 0, max 50
Quite a few responses explicitly mentioned that they read a lot of free fiction as well (presumably from Kindle or other free sites). Also some talked about using the library rather than buying books because of financial constraints. Several people said that the price of a book made a significant difference in their decision whether to buy or not.
Seven out of thirty three respondents typically buy more books than they read. In one extreme case, the person reads 4-6 books per month but buys 30-50! (Some of those might be free; she didn't specify.)
Several people made a distinction between short fiction (short stories/novellas) and novels. In cases where this wasn't stated, I assume that many of the books are actually shorter than novel length.
Most of these readers are people I've met via erotic romance promotion rather than pure erotica. Still, it's hard to claim from this (admittedly limited) data that people are not reading, or that they're not buying books.
I should mention that many of my readers consume far more books that I do!
(And by the way, if you want to be added to my email list and have a chance to win exclusive prizes every month, just send me email at lisabet [at] lisabetsarai [dot] com!)