How many diaries are sold in America per year?
July 16, 2013 9:52 PM   Subscribe

How many (new, unmarked) diaries are sold each year in America? Roughly what percentage of them are actually used?
posted by newdaddy to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Diaries like journals, or diaries like schedule planners? Or both?
posted by windykites at 10:38 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

From the perspective of a good few years performing research professionally, I'm pretty confident you aren't going to track down this information, and that it's quite possible it doesn't exist.

It is possible that someone has compiled information on the market for varieties of stationary that is sufficiently granular to capture this detail. If so the product would be intellectual property (nobody is going to the work of trying to assemble this kind of data - which would involve a huge amount of talking to manufacturers who don't have much incentive to share their production data with you - and inevitably a lot of educated guessing and estimation calculation - unless there is money to be made in having done so). Getting at it - who knows? Find the right industry group? It's liable to cost anyway.

As to the second half of the question I can't imagine who would attempt to compile such a figure or why. It's of no value to anyone. I'm not meaning to nay-say your question but you do get a feel for this kind of thing and how likely it is you'll be able to get at certain facts (again, coming from the perspective of having, for instance, at one time read interminable columns of paper industry reporting discussing the market for (not kidding about this) "certain hygiene products" (hint they are for the ladies)...

My advice would be don't waste a lot of time on this question, figure out how to do whatever you're doing without this data.
posted by Luke Skywalker at 11:04 PM on July 16, 2013

I did a little research on this and concluded that the market for diaries/journals is likely to be significantly larger than the number of journalers/diarists because 1) people buy them with good intentions and don't keep up with them 2) They are often given as gifts (and peopel don't use them). My evidence was anecdotal, but it was enough to convince me that the preponderance of such products on the shelves of stores was bad proxy for actual use.
posted by Good Brain at 12:24 AM on July 17, 2013

Besides the total number of diaries manufactured & sold and the percentage of that number that is unused, another variable to consider is the number of NON-"diary"-diaries..... by which I mean, things like composition books or spiral notebooks that are used AS diaries.

Or in other words, your question is basically unanswerable.
posted by easily confused at 1:49 AM on July 17, 2013

I dunno, you could probably email Amazon's PR department and tell them you're doing a feature article about journaling for your local paper and ask them for a rough estimate of sales data.
posted by empath at 2:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Diaries like journals, or diaries like schedule planners? Or both?

I'll take whatever I can get at this point -
posted by newdaddy at 3:55 AM on July 17, 2013

Best answer: In the trade they are called blank books, not diaries, because they can be used for lots of things other than diaries. In the old days a lot of blank books came with ruled lines and columns, like spreadsheets, because this is where most of the financial journals and accounts for businesses were kept.

As it happens, many blank books that are sold have ISBN numbers, just like books with words and pictures do, which makes their sales trackable using this Nielsen Bookscan system. Here's a post by a person with access to that system, who estimates that sales of Moleskine blank books, alone, are about one million per year in the US. So the first suggestion is to find someone with access to Nielsen Bookscan and have them dig a little deeper.

Also, blank book printers are part of an NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) sector called Blankbooks, Looseleaf Binders and Devices, and as such, there may be trade research available that aggregates data in that sector. (Also SIC code 2782) For example this, which doesn't precisely break out diary-style blank books, but the publisher of that report, The Gale Group, might have more "granular" detail. (Problem is, those kinds of reports are generally pretty pricy.) You also have the problem that manufacturing data doesn't tell the whole story, since there are both imports and exports of blank books. Google "SIC 2782" and you might come across some leads.

As to actual usage data, one way to get a pretty good estimate would be to try a Google Survey. For a few hundred books, you can get a statistically valid, demographically balanced set of responses to a couple of quick questions, like "In the last year, have you purchased or received as a gift a diary-style blank book?" and "Do you keep a diary on a regular basis?" or whatever it is you want to know. (These questions generally appear as pop-ups in front of content that is otherwise restricted, such as paywalled news; people answer them to receive access; publishers receive a share of the researcher's fees from Google.)
posted by beagle at 5:36 AM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]

"bucks" not "books" in that last paragraph.
posted by beagle at 7:12 AM on July 17, 2013

Can't add much to beagle's answer, but I've seen a lot of Myron diaries in custom-printed sleeves handed out by workplaces: it illustrates how the promo/B2B/tchotchke side of the market is both big and quite opaque.
posted by holgate at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2013

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