If Women Are Buying Almost 60% of Books, Why Is Chick Lit Still An Insult?
Numbers are in: Women's dollars accounted for 58 percent of all book spending in 2012. The 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review (sexiest of titles, right?) reveals that women’s share of book spending is at a new high, up from 55 percent in 2011.
E-book sales make up 44 percent of book spending, so maybe Amazon hasn’t taken over the world after all. Or maybe that's a resounding yet... the report also reveals that e-books are on the rise, as well, making up 11 percent of all 2012 book sales. A lot of this seems to be driven by women, too, since romance is one of the most popular e-book genres.
But here's what makes that 58 percent look even more impressive, and how this all fits together: Women are more likely to own an e-reader, and with e-book prices pretty low, the math works out that women are reading a lot. Of course, that brings us back to the same question we've been asking and asking: If women now make up most of the reading public in the U.S., why are we still treated as outsiders in the literary world? Why is "chick lit" such a derogatory designation?
This reminds me of the question I have about why, if women make up more than half of all active voters (and have in every presidential election since 1964), why are women’s issues not just "issues"? Why is "chick lit" not just "lit"? If female readers are the new norm, why does the system as a whole not take us seriously? After all, women are now approaching three in five of all readers. If there were ever a time to start taking women and books that appeal to them seriously, well, hi.