Friday, November 30, 2007

Turning to Crime

I work in a library (in case I haven’t mentioned that) and recent Public Lending figures have shown there’s been a massive shift, amongst women readers, away from romance towards crime novels, over the last ten years. This is definitely true of the branches I’ve worked in. I reckon most of our customers know how to commit the perfect murder and get away with it. Does this mean I throw in the towel right now (I’m writing humorous/feel-good, but still, ultimately, romance) or do they mean Catherine Cookson, Danielle Steele, Mills & Boon type romance? I need to know!!!!!!!

Another survey shows that:-

Married, working women aged 35 to 59 would rather read a good book than have sex, shop, or sleep. (No Comment)!

Nearly half finished a book in less than a week, 48% read more than one book at a time and, in the last year, one in five had spent £100 or more on novels. (Join the library you silly people!!)

47% of women said their favourite type of fiction was thrillers, 46% contemporary fiction and 45% crime, science fiction, with romance their least favourite. (GULP)

Only four in 10 liked books with a happy ending and many said they had felt inspired to do something after finishing a book - travel, change jobs, go back to college, leave their partners or try to write themselves.

Maeve Binchy is the favourite romance author, but in the list of most favoured Ian Rankin, Patricia Cornwell, PD James and Dan Brown outnumbered romantic writers.

HOWEVER - The literary idol is still Mr Darcy, the hero of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Confused? I am now. What does it all mean?
Not a lot, I suspect, which renders this post somewhat pointless.


Lane said...

Yes I am confused:-) Was it 47%/46%/45% in different groups? And gulp at the turn towards thrillers!!

I love my library. It's tiny,they order in my books and the librarians are totally lovely. They 'talk books' with me like our own little book club. They also know I'm writing and are nice and encouraging. They've also saved me a fortune.
I've never filled in one of these surveys though and from the look of the 'returns' bookshelf, only Josephine Cox and chick-lit is borrowed:-)

Maddie Moon said...

Oh dear, that is depressing news, for a non-crime writer like me. But there seems a similar trend in the women's magazines that still carry fiction - they all seem to be asking for crime stories at the moment.

Like you, I'm hoping the move away from romance is in the Mills and Boon type of story and not general contemporary women's fiction that deals with relationships. Mind you, I'm writing a fluffy style romance so I'm probably stuffed!

I'm married, working and in that age bracket. Reading a book would definitely be second on my list with shopping at the bottom. I'll leave you to figure what comes out on top!


After investigating further (sounds like the start of a crime novel itself - not a very good one alas), it was a apparently a puny survey of 1500 "ladies of a certain age" in the south. Where exactly, I don't know. On a positive note, every woman I've spoken to about it at work today enjoys a nice bit of feel-good fiction, as long as it's "well-written". Naturally. That's alright then!

Leigh said...

I can't imagine "romance" (by which I mean love interest, rather than out and out M&B), ever falling out of fashion.

Glad to know, however, the limitations of the survey. You can prove anything if you ask the right people. It's a bit tiresome.

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