23 October 2006

The Nerd Factor

I know you love speculative fiction or you probably wouldn't be reading this blog. Have you ever finished a great scifi or fantasy novel or short story and thought, "I bet (insert name here) would love this if I could just get him/her to read it"? But people don't cross the tracks to speculative fiction very easily--even if they read other fiction. Turns out someone did a little experiment along these lines. And the result? Even if people like a particular speculative fiction piece, they're not going to become spec fiction readers. One reason might be . . .

The Nerd Factor

In a recent interview in Locus Magazine, Betsy Wollheim, president of DAW books, said:

We're also striving to make the packaging more sophisticated, although it's hard because we don't want to lose our core readership. But I'm finding that many middle-aged people still want to read fantasy and science fiction -- they just don't want to be seen doing it! So one of the tricks of the trade is to make the books look a little more upscale.

Do you think it's true that people are judged by the cover of the book they're reading? Is that one factors that hurts speculative fiction readership? Maybe spec fiction would sell better if it was displayed behind opaque covers, like Cosmopolitan in my local grocery store.

1 comment:

lesleylsmith said...

Interesting hypothesis, Dave.
I certainly don't judge a person by the cover of the book they're reading. I'm just glad they're reading!
Perhaps the problem would be solved if e-books were more prevalent--no one else can tell what you're reading.
Of course, I am a huge nerd, so what do I know? :)