I’ll confess, I’m not a particularly ardent consumer of reader research, studies that are conducted in an effort to tell us what you’re thinking or wanting (or thinking you’re wanting). Such inquiries, it seems to me, miss the heart of this creative enterprise. I honestly don’t think it’s your job to tell me (and the fine editors and writers who feed your sci-tech jones every month) what you want to read. You’re looking to be surprised. It’s our job to tell you.
That said, occasionally a tenacious bit of data breaches my defenses and changes everything—as happened seven years ago when a marketing savant pointed out that the absolute number-one thing Popular Science readers loved was “how it works” stories.