. . .and the debate over female vs. male publishing continues.

Its been been one of my contentions that the publishing world, when it comes to fiction, has simply disregarded the needs of the male reader and has consciously decided to cater to the female buyer.  Currently the stats prove this.  Females are, by far, the largest book buyers out there and read far more fiction than males.

 

But why?  One possibility is that the publishing world's day-to-day nuts and bolts applications are staffed by women.  Editors, copy writers, lit agents--all hugely female in persuason.  All you have to do is open up book listing lit agents in the US and start counting the number of women vs. men agents.  It's an eye-opener, to say the least.

 

Well, here's an article that--somewhat--agrees with me.  Give it a good read and tell me your opinions on this subject.

 

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/books/blog/2010/05/do...

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I dunno, Camille, about the market correcting itself. Can't see it correcting if the perceptioncommonly held is that men don't buy books.
The thing is, it's the men themselves that matter. The market right now is fragmenting all over the place. Thanks to Kindle and other publishing platforms, small press and even individual authors are starting to publish with the big boys. And these smaller books are finding their way directly to the customer.

Look at what J.A. Konrath is doing. He was just publishing his back list, but now he's moving to bypass the publishing industry altogether. Perceptions matter only when there is a third party intervening.

And to go back to my movie equivalent - even when there is a powerful industry involved, the audience (and its money) will eventually speak. Thomas Edison for many years perceived the movie industry as frivolous and didn't really exploit his patent on the intermittent camera - but he heavily enforced his patent rights. He had Pinkertons running around and smashing cameras and shutting down productions... but in the end, he was defeated by a billion shopgirls with nickles. The audience wanted it, so it was going to happen, and eventually Edison figured out that he should let up on control and start making money.
Because men's and women's brains are different. Women by and large are much more verbally-oriented (a fact that has been egregiously misused to create the stereotype of the 'sanely' silent husband with the 'insane' babbling wife). My spouse (male), likes to read but he doesn't read much fiction. He prefers science and history. He doesn't care very much about writing style -- it just has to be clear, understandable and transmit the information clearly -- 'just the facts, ma'am.' Whereas I (female) am much more interested in the words and writing in and of themselves.
Ah, this is so true! However, I wonder if men have changed over the centuries. They used to be great readers.
Publishers will chase the money. If an author came out with a book that got some word of mouth and went viral with men, you'd see publishers lined up to catch the next author who they thought could capitalize on the bump. We might as well stop discussing readers' tastes and publishers profit motives as good or bad; they're how things are, just as the sun rises in the east. If you want to write, make your accommodation with that and move on. Or not.
Always the pragmatist, Dana. Good suggestion. But jeez, I do like to stir up the waters ocassionally.
So, this morning I received e-mail from Amazon because, "As someone who has recently purchased mysteries or thrillers from Amazon.com, you might be interested in new releases available this week."

(For the week of May 9, 2010)

9 of the 10 books are written by men.

The funny thing is, the "mystery or thriller" I bought that got me on this mailing list was, "Old Dogs," by Donna Moore (a very good book, by the way).
BR--what would you say were the "needs of the male reader" that publishers disregard? What kinds of books would men read, do you think, if only they were more available?
Good question, Jon. I think there is a need for a wider range of male protagonists in crime/detective literature. A wider ranger of possibilities in that area. I also think publishing houses should actively push historical detectives more toward the male reader. That's an area that could work well for them. And although there is a ton of books published that try to mimic Robert Ludlum and his style of writing, really there isn't any real effort to cull, find, and articulate talented authors in this area.

Overall I get the impression that publishing houses have simply given up trying to attract the male reader back into the fold. If that is the case I suggest it is a mistake on their part.
Maybe a small sign of hope: I have (as you know) a male protagonist. In addition, I seem to have more male fans than female, and in some instances husband-wife teams. :) However, the publishers have done nothing to create that situation. Historical mysteries might appeal more to male readers, but the field is crammed with historical cozies and costume drama, and that makes men shy away.
I think that's a very good point, Dan. But I'm not sure if it's because our needs have been "overlooked" or if it's because we haven't figured out how to flatter the ego of male book readers. You're right, Ian Fleming did and Tom Clancy and the rest of the "male" writers did, but it's possible that men who like to buy books these days don't want to be flattered in that way anymore. Lee Child's male readers may disagree, I don't know.
So who buys the Jason Bourne novels. Women? Or Clive Cussler novels? You mean to tell me more women bought the old Executioner paperback series than men did? More women bought Tony Hillerman novels?

I go to our public library and every time I go there, I see an almost 50/50 split of men vs.women browsing thru the fiction section. So I'm wondering, just how accurate are all these stats about women buying more books then men can be?

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