The Harry Potter generation is all grown up and saving the literary world as we know it. At least, that seems to be the implication of new sales data, which many believe indicate that women who grew up reading Harry Potter are driving book sales, especially in the so-called "grip lit" genre, which is now one of the most popular on the market. And while I'm both not a fan of the term "grip lit" and also not sure if these conclusions are fully supported, I think we can all agree that Harry Potter really is the gift that keeps on giving — and that millennial women are awesome.
According to Nielsen, which tracks books sales and trends, fiction book sales have been up lately. In the UK, for instance, fiction book sales rose 5.2 percent in 2015, and the biggest group driving that increase seems to be women ages 25 to 34 — aka, women who grew up reading the Harry Potter series. What's more, one of the most popular genres in fiction, thrillers, are increasingly dominated by "grip lit" — an unnecessary term for psychological thrillers written by women — like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. This type of literature is particularly popular among women in this age group, who make up around two thirds of "grip lit" readers.
Women in this age group are also driving sales in everything from adult coloring books to books about health and food to children's books for their own kids. Basically, women in their twenties and early thirties are a force to be reckoned with in the world of books.
“It is Generation Potter … Two years ago they were reading YA, now they’re coming on to grip lit – it’s the same cohort,” Jo Henry at Nielsen Book told The Guardian. “I think it’s a generation we have to keep an eye on – they’re obviously really heavy book readers, and we have to make sure we’re reaching them in the right way. They have huge spending power, and this will only increase.”
The fact that people who grew up reading Harry Potter are awesome has already been demonstrated by science, and it isn't exactly surprising that we are also big readers. After all, Harry Potter was one of the defining cultural phenomenon of our generation, meaning that it's only natural for us to see books as both culturally relevant and solidly entertaining. It is, of course, possible that millennial women would have grown up to be great readers with or without Harry Potter, so I'm not sure you can really say that the series is what really caused this apparent love of literature. But the fact that millennial women are driving book sales does seem pretty evident.
So what are the implications of all this? Well, it probably means more and more publishers will be trying to gear books towards women in their twenties and thirties, which could mean a lot more adult coloring books and psychological thrillers by women. Which could be pretty great.
And hopefully it also means we can get people to stop referring to everything written by and primarily for women as some type of "lit." Because from "chick lit" to now "grip lit," the whole thing is sexist and getting really old.
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