Things To Do While On Hold

July 25th, 2005 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

Sometimes we must go with the flow, or at least distract our mind from really, truly, horribly bad almost-pop music while waiting for the next operator (our call is really important to someone, just not entity we’re calling). Thus we bring you yet another story about women and book sales. It’s our last one this week, we swear*.

As it turns out, women are buying and reading books by women. We’ll let you take a moment to absorb this news. Done? Good. Duh. But it’s the fault of bookclubs (and here we thought those evil institutions were responsible for increased wine consumption). We’d love to bring you a meaty, well-researched story on this trend. We cannot. In addition to citing the study without a moment’s thought, the Telegraph story says:

“I think 30 years ago, men were the main buyers of novels because they had the spending power and women did not. That of course has changed,” he [JG Ballard] said.

“Women readers now outnumber men and they tend to seek out writers who know their own world at first hand. Women tend to find a lot of male writers boyish, macho and a little too interested in violence. The believe their books are too dependent on quick thrills.”

Given that women have been major purchasers and consumers of novels for quite some time, this might not be true. The part about buying power, we mean. The second statement might have merit. It would certainly be worth examining. Another thought might be that, give or take, women comprise 50% of the population. There are a lot of women authors out there. The way bestsellers lists are being determined is evolving. Perhaps, and this is just a thought, it’s an adjustment to reality, not a new trend?

* – Do not take this literally; we cannot predict our moods any more than we can predict our weight.

File Under: Square Pegs

4 responses so far ↓

  • Lauren Baratz-Logsted // Jul 25, 2005 at 10:25 am

    I had to laugh at the headline of the Telegraph article: they make it sound like a conspiracy! 🙂 Regarding trends, I’ve noticed that more literary novels by women are being pubbed with chicky covers, chick novels have moved into a Blue Period (see the top several titles on Amazon’s Summer Beach Reads list), while men are going pinkpinkpink (Frey’s My Friend Leonard and Weber’s Miss Gazillions).

  • Bill Peschel // Jul 25, 2005 at 1:14 pm

    Wait a minnit. What JG is suggesting is that, if men used to have the buying power but now the women do, that means that men have lost their ability to buy books. That, in essense, men are unable to buy books, because they’ve either lost interest or lost the buying power.

    In theory, it seems that if men continued to buy books, they would still be able to support the writers who wrote books aimed at that market. Now they don’t.

    I would guess, however, that men are buying fewer books because they can find similar material on TV and in movies.

  • Booksquare // Jul 25, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    I think JG is a little confused, on many levels. Such is the joy of unsupported arguments — it gives us stuff to make fun of (also I saw a man buying a book this past weekend, so it appears they have not completely lost their ability to purchase items).

  • Ann Harrington // Jul 25, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    I recall seeing a scholarly study that said that women have purchased the majority of novels since the beginning of novels as a recognized category, way back to the Georgian and Victorian eras. Be an interesting research topic if no one has looked at this recently.