Clarissa asked an interesting question: What’s the most popular genre sold in bookstores? Unfortunately this is not a simple question. There are so many variables that change the numbers. Some of these variables include:
Location: the most popular genres are different across countries, states, suburbs. I know that my local bookstore sells more children’s and young adult books than the bookstores in the city. It all depends on the demographics. It also depends on the shop itself. Independent bookstores tend to sell more literary fiction and non-fiction rather than genre fiction.
Date: the numbers vary widely from month to month depending on the current bestsellers—for example the popularity of the Harry Potter books made children’s books rocket into the most popular lists for a long while.
World events: For example, when the world falls into an economic crisis, the population turns to gambling. Strange, but true. Likewise, fanciful stories become more popular when people feel unsafe. For example, superheroes were born during the time of the world wars.
Trends: popular trends drive much of the market. A plethora of paranormal romance books are now popular in many locations because of the runaway success of the Twilight books and movies.
Data Accessibility: There are a number of holes in the accessibility of information regarding what exactly is most popular. Publishers of course know their own numbers through the royalty figures. Since 2001 in Australia that data has become a lot more public through a data provider called BookScan which provides point of sale data. It has allowed all the publishers to know how all the others are selling.
I found a list on Rachelle Gardner’s blog which might give you a vague idea of the popularity of genres. Remember, in terms of popularity, this is highly generalised and is subject to change depending on the variables I’ve mentioned above and it does not include children’s or young adult books. It’s also not a list of actual sales, but deals made in October 2010 and April 2011 covering 309 books:
38% General/other (non-genre fiction)
The average writer can’t afford to tap into the data offered by BookScan because publishers pay $10k plus a year for the privilege. So, how do we find out the numbers for ourselves? We build a relationship with our local bookstores and libraries and we ask them.
What genres do you like to read and which ones do you like to write in and why?
If you’d like me to answer any questions, just leave them in the comments or send me an email.