Latest Stats on Genre Books

The latest Harris Poll is out. Some of its findings may surprise you. According to the results of a poll conducted with 2,775 adults in the U. S. Responding, mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels have taken a commanding lead over romance sales.

Actually, I don't know how much stock to put in this since the poll reflects answers from readers who filled out the survey online. I don't know how the respondents were led to the survey. As far as I can see, the value of the poll is in question because the only real way to know what outsold what is by tracking bookstore sales.

Having said that, I'll report their findings from last August, wherein 80% said they read at least one book in an average year, and 80% said they'd read a novel or nonfiction book in the past year.

Food For Thought

Since many of the founding ladies of romance now write mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels, I find the growth and popularity of these books rather amusing. These multi-published romance novelists have branched out into other genres and their readers have followed. Other readers who wouldn't be caught dead reading a romance novel have also bellied up to the genre bar and embraced these talented authors who are a major influence in the bestseller mystery lists.

Harris Poll Results: Fiction

48% of fiction readers said they read mysteries, thrillers and crime novels

26% read science fiction

24% read literature

21% read romance novels

11% read graphic novels in the past year

8% read Chick-lit

5% read western

Harris Poll Results: Nonfiction

31% read histories

29% read biographies

26% read religious and spirituality books

17% read political books

16% read self-help books

14% read current affairs

12% read true crime

10% read business books


Those who responded to the poll in the 18 to 33 age group are more likely than other age groups to read literature (42%) and graphic novels (18%).

Those 65 and older are more likely to read mystery, thriller, and crime novels (61%) and westerns (9%).

Gender Based Stats

Statistics based on gender aren't surprising. Women are more likely than men to read:

Mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels — 57% women to 39% men

Romance — 37% women to 3% men

Chick-lit — 12% to 4%

Religious books — 30% to 21%

Men are more likely than women to read:

Science fiction — 32% men to 20% women

History books — 40% to 23%)

Political books — 25% to 10%

Business books — 16% to 4%

Takeaway Truth

Conventional publishing wisdom has always held that readers don't follow an author to a new genre. That's why they always required a different name for a writer who began working in a different genre. Maybe that's another aspect of the publishing biz that's becoming obsolete too.

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