June 9, 2004
News & Opinion: Get Paid to Read Fiction
Whatever the mechanics of the Good Booking initiative, there's a serious issue at stake. Why don't men read books? Despite the popular myth that women buy far more books than men, the overall sales figures for adult book are roughly equal. Of 216 million adult books sold last year, 99 million - almost half - were bought by men. Where women pull ahead of men is in fiction. According to research by Book Marketing Limited, only 44 per cent of men read fiction, compared to 77 per cent of women. If Penguin can make inroads into the 33 per cent of men whose wives and partners are reading, but who don't read themselves, they will pull off a miracle.
If men are befuddled by fiction, they are hungry for factual writing. In the UK, 60 per cent of men read non-fiction, compared to only 52 per cent of women. And in the US, Ben Mezrich's Bringing Down the House, the true-life story of a circle of fast-living MIT students, has spent 39 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Mezrich boasted that 'men don't want to read about dating and relationships. They want to read about money, sex and people beating the system'.
Now I realize that the readers here probably favor non-fiction, but I thought it would be interesting to ask anyway - "What percentage of your reading diet is non-fiction vs. fiction?"
[guardian link via bookslut]
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.