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Men Don’t Read, And Other Tall Tales

April 26, 2010

Men don’t read, you say? Can you blame them when–in a world of Twilight and Mr. Darcies–no one sells them anything they’d want to touch with a ten-foot pole?

In a continuation of our unofficial gender talks, where we discussed male vs. female writing style and reading preference, as well as whether one needs to write like a man in order to get published, I thought I should recommend an article I read via Anne R. Allen called, “Why Men Don’t Read: How Publishing is Alienating Half the Population.” The author, a bestselling thriller writer named Jerry Pinter, describes the phenomena:

“If you’ve worked in publishing, you’ve heard the tired old maxim: Men Don’t Read. Try to acquire or sell a book aimed predominantly at men, and odds are you’ll be told Men Don’t Read….So because publishers rarely publish for men and don’t market towards men, somehow that equates to our entire gender having given up on the reading books. THIS MUST END.”

Anne R. Allen adds a fantastic point, pointing out that while women may out-buy books by a 4 to 1 ratio, adults in general don’t read. Considering I gobbled 2 books a week in middle school while I struggle to nibble on 2 a month now, I can’t say I disagree. Between responsibilities and short attention spans, there aint never been a harder time to crack open a book.  And that’s because, in the same way that publishers advertise largely to women, publishers advertise largely to female teens–it makes me wonder which came first, authors writing YA, teens wanting YA, or publishers deciding they should milk $$$ from boomer parents with YA lit.

No matter what the answer is, I lament that guys don’t read, and/or that we’ve created a culture where they don’t read because we’re convinced they don’t. I always feel myself coming back to an article I read about an author’s struggle to suggest MG and YA novels to boys, and I know that if there’s a boy who’s not reading, it’s because he’s 10yrs old and the only thing he can find is Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. Lemme tell you,  I don’t care how good you say Wimpy Kid is, but Captain Underpants was 100x better. Just so ya know.

Are you a male who doesn’t read? What made you stop/never start? And does anyone have an answer to the overall dilemma of decreased readership in the grand ol world? I hear India is increasing readership, but haven’t they got enough of they’re own writers to satiate the public thirst?

Also, anyone want to ask EDWARD ALBEE a question? I’m seeing him next week so tell me what you want to know!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2010 10:54 pm

    Thanks for the mention here. I should clarify that in my “Grown-ups Don’t Read” post, I was voicing the opinion of the publishing industry marketers, not my own.

    I personally think women are still reading as much fiction as we have in the past few decades–maybe more. It’s just harder to find new stuff, because the publishers are only interested in finding the next Twilight/H. Potter, and there isn’t that kind of money in adult fiction–for either gender.

    • May 2, 2010 11:15 pm

      Sorry I misrepresented you a bit, then. Maybe women are reading more, though even in my friend group, which is a pretty intelligent bunch of kids, I don’t see enough of them READ. And certainly, they’re not reading adult fiction, which is what I gravitate towards.

      And honestly, can I blame publishers for wanting to find the next Twilight? Better that then have everything go down the tubes. At the very least that money funds other literary endeavors, I figure.


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