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What Do Online Book Browsers Want?

Online previews of e-books and digital texts lead to more sales -- with romance novels topping the list of the genres most perused online -- according to the wireless periodical delivery firm LibreDigital.

LibreDigital, a digital publishing company that also works with publishers, authors, retailers and social networking sites to offer sample book chapters online, on Wednesday released some data on how readers browsed such content over the past 18 months.

One big takeaway: previews increase sales.

"We know that allowing readers to preview book chapters before buying has a positive impact on both print and e-book sales," LibreDigital CEO Russell Reeder said in a statement. "In the case of one well-known book publisher, one in three people who browsed decided to purchase the book online. As a result, leading publishers are increasing their use of online previews when planning promotional campaigns for both new and existing book titles."

The company's data also shows that women are spending 70 percent more time browsing books online than men, and that romance novels are the most popular genre of books sampled on the Web.

After romance comes books for tweens and teenagers, followed by business books.

It also appears the online book browser is typically very engaged. The average reader spends more than 15 minutes browsing a book, and previews an average of 46 pages of each book they browse, according to LibreDigital.

LibreDigital also offered some popular time-frames for browsing books online. For romance titles, it's 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., while teens do so mostly from 4 to 11 p.m and business books follow the work schedule clocking in primarily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Adults are more likely to share links to content via e-mail, while younger readers prefer to share within social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.

With the meteoric rise expected for the e-book and e-reader market, such trends may mean a bigger payday for all the vendors flocking to the sector, which includes Amazon with the ever-expanding Kindle family, Sony with the Reader Daily Edition and iRex Technologies' new device, to know who the digital bookworms are and what they want.

LibreDigital is already slated to provide the platform for delivering published content to hardware vendor Plastic Logic's e-reader due out in early 2010.

Barnes & Noble is also widely expected to issue a branded e-reader as early as next month in addition to partnering up with Plastic Logic and iRex to have its e-book store preloaded on their devices.