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Questionnaire Results
by The Editors

You've always been our favourite readers, and it Looks as though the feeling's mutual "I don't care what you have to do, just get me an interview with this guy Trollope!" OUR SINCERE thanks to those 623 read ers who took the time to fill out the questionnaire in our April issue. We're still mulling over the deeper implications of this deluge of data ?? and particularly the fact that three respondents chose Anthony Trollope (1815? 1882) as their favourite author of the last 10 years ?? but we thought you might be interested in some of the general points made by our forthright and articulate readership. Basically, Books in Canada doesn't seem to be doing too bad a job. Most of those who responded described the magazine's editorial quality as either excellent (29.8%) or good (58.1%), which perhaps explains why more than a third (34.6%) have been keeping up with us for a decade or more. A flattering percentage (54.7%) make it a permanent part of their library, and you don't seem to mind sharing us: 22.9% pass us on to one other reader, 10.5% to two, and .802% ?? who says we literary types are all alienated loners? ?? state that their copies of Books in Canada are perused by eight or more readers. Most of you seem to read just about everything in the magazine, with book reviews (91.8%), brief reviews (87.6%), and the first novels column (79.9%) heading the list. Interestingly enough, advertising (58.5%) fared better than either Can Wit (48.1%) or the Acrostic (22.3%), which suggests that you're a serious bunch who don't need to be wooed with gimmicks and giveaways. As far as what else you'd like to see in these pages is concerned, we heartily agree with those who identified regional coverage (34.5%) as meriting additional attention. Otherwise, the message is mixed: international titles (35.4%), commentary on the arts (26.6%), and theatre and film reviews (23.1%) all had numerous advocates, but an approximately equal number of respondents stated ?? often very emphatically ?? that they did not want us to venture into these areas. What to do? Compromise, of course. If an international title bears some significant relationship to the domestic scene ?? as in this issue's review of Anna Akhmatova's poems, which sheds light upon At Purdy's poetic practices as well as Akhmatova's ?? it seems to us that a review is in order; but the primary responsibility of Books in Canada is to cover Canadian books, and that's not going to change. The same goes for arts commentary and theatre and film reviews, which we'll consider only when ?? as in the case of the movie version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tate ?? there's a meaningful connection to the world of books. And you don't just read about books, you buy them, too. The average reader purchases 15 or more harcover and/or 30 or more paperback books in the course of a year, and books reviews (86.8%) lead author's reputation (77.5%) and friend's recommendation (54.2%) as the grounds upon which you make your decisions; a very sensible attitude, in our admittedly jaundiced view. Almost two?thirds inch cared that they bought books for children, which reinforces our feeling that we need to increase our coverage of these titles. Although the correlation between popularity and intrinsic worth is a questionable one, you're such an elite group of readers that your choices may have a relatively high degree of validity. Your favourite book of 1989 was Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye, with John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Mordecai Richler's Solomon Gursky Was Here finishing a respectable second and third. The award for the favourite book of the last 10 years was easily won by Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale, which garnered twice as many votes as Alice Munro's The Progress of Love; Cat's Eye and Timothy Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage and The Wars weren't far behind in a three?way tie for third. Given these results, it's not surprising that your favourite author of the last 10 years was Margaret Atwood, although Alice Munro, Margaret Laurence, and Robertson Davies also made extremely good showings. But things changed quite a bit when we asked you to take eternity as your time frame. The favourite book of all time was the Bible, nosing out two Margaret Laurence titles, The Diviners and The Stone Angel, and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in a very close race; and Margaret Laurence took the laurels for favourite author of all time over Shakespeare, Austen, and Charles Dickens. Once again, thank you for being so informative and candid in answering the questionnaire. You've given us a lot to think about, and we're going to do our best to make Books in Canada an indispensible resource for those who care about Canadian writing.

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