Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doom and Gloom and Escapism

Here we are in the midst of a 'World Economic Crisis' and I wonder -- How will this affect book sales?

According to a piece I saw the other day romance sales are up 32%. This makes me think the sale of big fat fantasy novels will be going up. After all, having battled the real world all week, what is nicer than to curl up on a rainy Saturday afternoon with a book that's going to take you away to a fantasy world where the villains are recognizable and the world's problems can be conquered?

I'm not saying we should put our heads in the sand and ignore the world. Each week, if I remember, I buy New Scientist and read it from cover to cover. But I can only take so much doom and gloom. I need something to smile about and whether I'm reading the latest Janet Evanovich or a Joe Abercrombie, I'm refueling to go out and face the real world.

For anyone who is interested, Rose Fox has an article here on the way our fiction needs relate to what's happening in the real world.

2 comments:

John Lambshead said...

Recession has all sorts of strange effects on our culture: women's hemlines change and men start wearing formal clothes. The other thing is that cheap escapism sells. Wargame sales actually go up. The long-haul holiday may be cancelled but one can still sit in one's garden with a good book.

Women's hemlines go up in recessions as do contraceptives sales and birth rates. There is more than one form of romantic escapism!

At my age, I am sticking with a good book, but back in the financial crisis in the 70s when I was in my 20s......

John

Dave Freer said...

Historically recessions have always been good for 'cheap' escapist entertainment, with books and movies doing well during IIRC all but the last (internet?) with a relationship between severity and the uptick in publishing. Now of course that does have an interesting corrolary - the entertainment that audiences desire during a economic hard times is escapist and uplifting. Romance often fits (in my opinion should always :-)) that description. Actually, introspection and the shall we say wallow in guilt, misery or grunge of authors like Meiville and Le Guin are just too real for the current situation. There will always be a market - a small one - for what I call misery-lit. But it's not escapism right now, and that's what the market wants. It's a message I hope publishers are getting or they'll lose audiences for us. The issue of length has been raised in several of the fora I participate in. Apparently shorter is coming back - I suspect this may be the publishing industry's wonderful ability to follow yesterdays's trend. A BFF is 'good value escapism' in a time when value becomes a real issue in the mind ofthe buyer.