Friday, December 19, 2008

Dudes don't read

On the Huffington Post Chris Goldberg, who describes himself "as a guy who has worked in the book world for several years," writes about the notion that fiction is for women.

Chris Goldberg:

When I talk to book editors they repeat the mantra almost religiously: "Dudes don't read." They've all resigned themselves to the fact that women buy most of the books -- especially novels -- and so it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They're right. Dudes aren't reading. But is it our fault? Or have publishers just given up trying to publish and market books that we'd want to read?

Just glance over a list of book deals on Publisher's Marketplace and you'll see houses acquiring the same stuff day in and day out -- almost all of which fits into pre-existing niche categories dominated by female readers.

A good example is Jane Austen-related books. In three years in my current job I've seen The Jane Austen Book Club, Jane Austen's Guide to Dating, Jane Austen in Boca, Jane Austen in Scarsdale, Austenland, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen: A Novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Lost in Austen: A Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure, What Would Jane Austen Do? and, appropriately, Jane Austen Ruined My Life.

I joked with my cubicle-mate when Twilight became big that it was only a matter of time before we had a Jane Austen vampire book. It didn't take long. In June Publisher's Marketplace announced Jane Bites Back, pitched as "the humorous, sassy account of Jane Austen as a modern-day vampire," to be published by Del Rey Books.

After The Devil Wears Prada there were dozens of "assistant lit" books. After The Nanny Diaries there were dozens of "nanny lit" books. As the former assistants and nannies get married and have kids there are now "mommy lit" and "divorcée lit" books.

Meanwhile, it's gotten to the point where a lot of the more business-savvy literary agents won't even bother to represent a young male novelist anymore. If they do actually sell a guy-centered book, it's usually a direct-to-paperback deal with practically no publicity budget. (Something like I Just Want My Pants Back by David J. Rosen.)

for the rest go here:


Stephen D. Rogers said...

And yet I find when buying for my seven year old daughter it seems that most of the interesting fiction is written for boys.

Chad Carter said...

This really strikes a deadly chord with me. I've been wondering why I haven't read many novels in the last few years. Feminized publishing is part of it, for sure. I was thinking of all the writers I read growing up, who wrote to appeal to men, and how many have actually published in the last five years. Aside from Richard Stark, 80 plus years old, who keep churning out Parker novels, all those writers are an anachronism.

Anonymous said...

So look at the books they are making big for guys - technothrillers, serial killer series, assassins, lone wolf heroes. And look at the franchise names - Cussler, Ludlum, Griffin, Patterson - all being written by others with the 'name' author getting above-the-title credit. Flat, read 'em and toss 'em, forgettable. Why should guys read? No one is publishing stories of men in the 21st century.