Monday, November 2, 2009

Books are for Girls

So the other day i was listening to Sherman Alexie talking on MPR. He is a great writer with a varied background and had a lot of really interesting things to say, I suggest checking that interview out on their archives. One, of many, things that really stuck with me during his talk was when the interviewer asked him something about his audience. His response was something to the effect of, well i'd like it if young people and men like my books but since 80% of people who buy them are college educated, adult, white women, that's really who needs to like it.
I found that pretty suprising and I understand that it wasn't intended to be a literal statistic, but I just sent out a bunch of beta copies for the novel i am finishing. Guess who actually has read them and turned in critiques? Only adult, smart, women. My younger lady friend? Nope. My guys friends? Nope. Just the mid twenties plus crowd, so there's a little totally non-scientific survey in that same direction.
Another beta reader of mine said that part of it is that his wife buys them, reads them first, and he only reads the ones that get a good recommendation from her. I wonder about other peoples thoughts on the subject? Most of the people I myself know who actually read, are the ladies.... In fact almost exclusively ladies. I wonder why that is? I mean, I know lots of guys read, I mean I read all the time, but i definitely know way more women who do. Putting it into stark contrast, I gave my parents my book. They were so proud I had finished it, they took me out to dinner, did the whole proud parent thing, blah blah. Both equally gushy, supportive parents.
Bottom line: my mom read it, my dad hasn't.


Kelly McCullough said...

Actually that may have been a real statistic, depending on what sub-field he's writing in. It's certainly the case that women form a significant majority of book buyers.

Sarah said...

Yeah, but that kind of makes it seem like educated women are one audience, which is not true at all. For example, I go through a lot of books, but I don't think I've read any of the same books as Laura Reed, Gretchen, my mother or H R, and they all read different books from each other.

Kelly McCullough said...

That wouldn't be my contention at all just that a sub-genre could easily have an audience that was 80% college educated, adult, white women since (if I'm remembering the numbers correctly) something north of 70% percent of all fiction in the US is bought by women.