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The Great TBR Poll: The Results

Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

Size doesn’t matter, except when you’re talking books. In our latest TBR poll, we got nosy and asked you to reveal how many books are on your TBR. The first thing that became clear is that everyone has their own definition of TBR. We didn’t want to lock you down or limit you, so we just asked for your number and where you keep your TBR, whatever TBR happens to mean to you. As usual, we’ve broken down the numbers, and we’ll leave most of the interpretation up to you.

What do you make of these results? Where do you fall on this spectrum? Any surprises?

Some notes on methodology:

Total participants: 1092

In quantitative questions, approximations & ranges were rounded.  Answers like “Over 500” became “500.” Answers like “hundreds” and “thousands” became “100” and “1,000.” We can’t guess what the actual numbers are for each respondent, so we rounded conservatively. Anyone who answers “hundreds” likely has at least 100. The frequency with which readers gave these generalized answers may explain how 100 became the mode (the most-listed number) for both quantitative questions. It may also mean that the averages here are lower than readers’ actual counts. But since we can’t apparate into your homes or hack into your ereaders and count your books to know exactly what “thousands” shakes out to, we erred on the side of caution.

Word-based answers to quantitative questions were removed from analysis because they are impossible to quantify. For future reference, y’all, “too many to count” and “three bookshelves’ worth” are not usable responses, but we love you anyway.

Let’s have a look at the results!

Do you keep a list of books you want to read?

Responses: 1063

TBR chart

Yes: 1017

No: 46

How man books are currently on your TBR?

1011 Responses

Range: 0 – 5083

current TBR

Average: 335

Mode: 100

How many books do you own that you haven’t read yet?

1017 Responses

Range: 0 – 4,000

unread books you own

Average: 190

Mode: 100

Where do you keep your TBR list?

1026 responses

This item was open-ended, allowing readers to enter any methods and sources they wanted, and however many they wanted. After the survey closed, I identified the major response categories and coded answers into them. Some readers reported multiple sources, so the total number of list sources exceeds the number of respondents.

where readers keep TBR

Goodreads: 658

Journal, notebook, note pad, post-its: 170

Word file or spreadsheet: 134

Phone, tablet, or mobile app: 74

Other book social networking or listing site (LibraryThing, Shelfari, Riffle, local library, etc): 71

Amazon Wishlist: 69

Physical stack or shelf: 39

In ereader/ereading app: 18

Other book retailer wishlist: 6


There you have it, folks! Thoughts? Questions?


Check out other Riot polls:

Book Riot Readers’ 50 Favorite Novels

The 25 Most-Hated Books (by Book Riot Readers)

19 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read FOREVER

20 Books You Pretend to Have Read

Top 10 Books You’re Embarrassed to Admit You’ve Read

20 Most-Loved Literary Characters

Are These the 13 Most Underrated Books?

20 Books You Love to Give as Gifts

Your 25 Favorite Authors of Color

The Book Riot 2013 Reading Habits Survey