Why publishers are not discriminating men!
In his post he discusses how more books tailored for women flood the market. He suggests that Louis L’amour would likely not be published today because of the publisher’s discrimination of men. Now, I’m a strong supporter of human rights and eliminating discrimination, but I don’t see true discrimination as Nicholas is describing it.
He says on his blog, “this feminization phenomenon is hurting the book business.” The feeling I get from his post is that he believes the publishing industry has focused on women to drive the market. While I can appreciate his point of view and possibly agree with some of his thinking, I must disagree with most of his post.
First of all, I believe it IS true that more women buy books than men. I believe there is a trend that over time more women have taken over a greater amount of the market share of buyers:
“54% of fiction is bought by women.”
Allow me to make two points on this topic.
1. Women are more internal and emotional than men.
2. As children, girls show an increased tendency for leisure reading.
Point 1: I’m all for equality of the sexes, but let’s face the facts. Biologically and to an extent, psychologically, men and women ARE different, this includes our brain.
For men, the cluster "talks with" brain regions that help them respond to sensors for what's going on outside the body, such as the visual cortex and an area that coordinates motor actions.
For women, the cluster communicates with brain regions that help them respond to sensors inside the body, such as the insular cortex and hypothalamus. These areas tune in to and regulate women's hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and respiration.”
Here's just one more article on the differences.
The romance genre has a long history and a huge following. Very few men read romance so by default nearly all of its readers are women. Romance novels provide an internal world full of emotion. The success of recent “chick lit” also provides some of the same need women have for an emotional tale. Bridget Jones’s Diary is an excellent example. Yes, chick lit may be a trend that has begun to wane. It may even have “dumbed down” fiction, but it meets a need and the demand is strong.
Point 2: A recent study was made with students to check their leisure reading. The results:
“Sex differences in leisure reading are also statistically significant, revealing more female readers (85%) than male leisure readers (65%). This finding of greater female pursuit of reading follows Walter's (1929) early study of youth leisure that claimed that, in 1929, female adolescents, much more than boys, engaged in leisure reading. No contemporary research into adolescent leisure or reading has noted gender differences in reading pursuits.”
If this was realized in the 20’s and is still a truthful condition… it’s probably safe to say that much of the trend for reading begins when children begin reading for leisure. Not for homework; not to improve reading skills; not because mom and dad said so – but to do it for pure enjoyment.
Part of the study asked the teens to identify their favorite leisure genre. Romance was the preferred genre by the girls and was four times higher than the next genre on the list. At this result, see point 1.
Publishers are not proactively dictating the market of book type. Publishers are fulfilling the basic principal of economics: supply versus demand. Publishing is a business. Any writer who doesn’t accept that fact will likely face some great disappointment. The main population of book buyers desires certain components and certain styles in the books they read. Publishers respond to that need. Now, publishers continue to present books in other genres, new and unique novels, and novels told from different views, tones and styles. After all, not 100% of book buyers all like the same thing. However, the publishers release those novels in smaller quantities and less frequently to match the need. There are tons of bestsellers that are written by men and also fit the arena of not being tailored specifically for a man or a woman. If there were a greater demand for the style or genre Nicholas is focusing on, I’m sure there would be a supply to meet it. It’s not as if publishers do not have a wealth of manuscripts being thrown at them every day to choose from.
Note: I'm completely bypassing an entirely different point that discusses the quality of writing and how agents and publishers select the best writing they see, versus mediocre, poor, or even crappy writing. And it is this point that is probably the most pivotal point of the publishing process. If your writing isn't good enough to sell to more people than your parents and a handful of friends... it's not worth their time.
As far as identifying feminism, “as something that is hurting the book business” I must strongly disagree. Let’s list internet, ebooks and television as the primary culprits and a few other things before we get to feminism.