by Anna Bell
There seems to be a boom in women’s fiction at the moment, from serials to a huge number of debut authors signing with digital first imprints. Yet, when you look at the shelves in the shops, is it just me, or are there less and less chick lit books for sale? Are we losing the women’s fiction paperback?
We’ve all heard it from someone. The paperback is dead. Soon everyone will read on e-readers and the publishing industry is doomed. Groan. I’m not that doom and gloom. I don’t believe the publishing industry or the paperback is dead. Like any industry facing the challenge of new technology, it’s evolving. That said, I have noticed less traditional chick lit books on sale over the last year. Most of my book shopping is done at airports and supermarkets, and I’ve sometimes struggled to find a chick lit book to buy. With the impetus on only stocking new releases – and often only the big names – it seems that the shelves are dominated by psychological thrillers, crime and what I’d call ‘book club’ women’s fiction.
With nearly every publishing house now having a digital-only offer, and a number of well respected ebook-only publishers emerging, it seems logical that a huge number of aspiring authors have recently found a publisher. It’s lovely to see fellow RNA New Writers Scheme members and bloggers I’ve been following for years achieving publication, thanks to the digital-only imprints.
Yet it isn’t only debut authors that seem to be going digital. I’ve noticed established authors, whose books I’ve read before, aren’t publishing in paperback anymore. Is it a sign of the future? Will only big, bestselling names find themselves in paperback?
The digital-only offer isn’t bad news for an author. Sure, they don’t get to see a physical book on the shelves, but there are perks for that trade-off. Without long lead times for printing and rigid scheduling, ebooks can be published at a quicker rate. Those who write quickly don’t have to wait for long periods between their books being published and, after all, the quicker the books are published the quicker the royalties come in. And speaking of royalties, they are often higher than those of paperback, too.
For the reader, digital-only offers variety. Publishers can offer titles, which are a mix of genres – titles that they wouldn’t take the risk with in paperback. There’s also the flexibility to offer books in different formats – in serialised parts, for example, or as a series of novellas.
It seems like the boom is good news for everyone, but are we losing something? Will those authors publishing digital-only get to walk into a shop and see their physical book for sale if they’ve proved themselves as a bestseller in ebook?
What do you think about the changing nature of women’s fiction publishing? Am I getting sucked into the doom and gloom? Does it matter how people are reading the genre as long as people are still reading it?